Graduation Date

Fall 2020

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Richard N. Brown

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Andrew P. Kinziger

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Jeffery M. Black

Subject Categories



Steller’s jays (Cyanocitta stelleri) with swollen legs and feet resembling the signs of scaly leg have been commonly seen around Arcata, California, USA. These signs are thought to be caused by knemidokoptic mites, a group of parasites specialized at exploiting a range of avian hosts. I compared the gripping position in the feet of jays with variable signs of this condition as an index of their ability to perch, confirmed the presence of mites and identified them to the nearest species using genetic analysis, and compared the relatedness of the cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) gene between mites collected from different host species. Jays with visible signs of mite infestation had greater variability and a reduced degree of contraction in the gripping position of their feet compared to jays without signs, suggesting infestation may have an impact on the host’s ability to perch. DNA barcoding of the COI gene (578 base pairs) from mites collected from a Steller’s jay was compared to Knemidokoptes jamaicensis, Knemidokoptes derooi, and to unidentified Knemidokoptes sp. collected from different hosts. The mites from a Seller’s jay were most closely related to Knemidokoptes jamaicensis but had a relatively high sequence divergence of 7.8%, supporting the possibility that the form infesting the Steller’s jays may be an undescribed species.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management


Thesis/Project Location