Microbe Mayhem: Exploring the Impact of Carbaryl Insecticide on the Gut Microbiome and Morphometrics of Purple Martins

Monday, February 26, 2024 10 a.m. to noon

Eastern purple martins (Progne subis subis) undertake an annual journey between South America to North America. Due to the loss of their natural habitat, they now almost completely rely on humans for providing artificial nesting houses. Management of ectoparasites, such as hematophagous mites, remains a significant challenge. A common strategy involves the application of carbaryl to control mite infestations. Carbaryl belongs to the class of carbamate insecticides and functions by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme essential for nerve function in insects, leading to their death. While aimed at specific pests, carbaryl can inadvertently impact non-target species, leading to unintended health consequences. In studies, dysbiosis of the gut microbiome has been linked to other classes of insecticides. The gut microbiome is a crucial factor in birds' overall health and well-being, influencing nutrient absorption, immune system function, and resistance to pathogens. The proposed study aims to assess the broader impacts of carbaryl use in purple martins. Specifically, I will employ DNA metabarcoding techniques to analyze and compare gut microbiome diversity and composition in chicks from nests treated with carbaryl and those from untreated nests. Additionally, I will measure and compare morphometrics of birds from both groups to determine if carbaryl exposure negatively influences any aspects of growth or nestling size. Through this research, I aim to provide a comprehensive understanding of how carbaryl, while beneficial in ectoparasite management, may negatively affect the health and physical attributes of purple martins. The results will offer valuable insights for conservationists and those who manage these migratory songbirds.

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Bio 415: BIO 415 [ View Website ]


Denise Montenegro Denise.Montenegro@ucf.edu


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