Bird Migration and the Spread of Bacteria

January 1, 2007 by Gregory Gough

Migratory birds may play a role in spreading disease across the continents. This study looked at the bacteria present on the feathers of migratory birds, and in the soil, on both their breeding and wintering grounds.

The bacterial communities were different in soil and feathers between species, habitats, and breeding and wintering grounds.

Some studies suggest that birds acquire their feather bacteria from the soil but this was not supported in this study of the arboreal American redstart. It may get its bacteria from other birds or vegetation.

This article summarizes the information in this scientific paper:

Bisson, Isabelle-Anne, Marra, Peter P., Burtt, Edward H.,Jr., Sikaroodi, Masourneh and Gillevet, Patrick M. 2007. Molecular comparison of plumage and soil bacteria across biogeographic, ecological, and taxonomic scales. Microbial ecology, 54: 65-81.

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