Page last updated at 15:40 GMT, Friday, 8 August 2008 16:40 UK

Breeding shags hit by parasites

Shags. Picture courtesy of Akinori Takahashi
The research on the sea birds was carried out on the Isle of May

Parasites found in the stomachs of North Sea birds on the Isle of May are reducing their ability to breed, Edinburgh biologists have found.

A study by the city's university discovered parasites in the stomachs of European shags were preventing mothers feeding their sons enough nutrients.

As a result fewer male birds were available to breed.

The researchers found parasite treatment during critical breeding periods helped the young birds develop.

The study was led by Edinburgh University's centre for Ecology and Hydrology, in collaboration with biologists at the University of Glasgow and the British Antarctic Survey.

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