Parasites with heteroxen cycles are important sources of information on the trophic relations of hosts. This is particularly instructive for species whose age-based or sex-based differences are hardly detected by behavioural observations. Here, we describe the helminth community of the omnivorous southern lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) and evaluate whether it is affected by the host's sex, age and body size. The species is sexually monomorphic in body length, but males are slightly heavier than females. We analysed 112 individuals collected in Curitiba, Brazil, in March 2010. All hosts were parasitized. The helminth community was composed of 10 species (the digeneans Leucochloridium parcum and Athesmia sp., the cestode Infula macrophallus, the acantocephalans Plagiorhynchus sp., Centrorhynchus sp., Mediorhynchus sp., and an unidentified Gigantorhynchida, and the nematodes Heterakis psophiae, Dispharynx nasuta and an unidentified Capillariidae), seven of which were novel reports for this host species. Prevalence ranged from <1% to 99%. Whereas I. macrophallus was the most prevalent species, D. nasuta showed the highest mean intensity and abundance of infection. The former was found in most hosts as single male-female pairs, suggesting the occurrence of intrasexual competition. The infracommunities of juvenile birds showed a higher parasite species richness than those of adult males and females, suggesting the exploitation of a wider array of prey. However, the three classes harboured seven parasite species. Differences in parasite diversity (lower in juveniles, intermediate in adult males and higher in adult females) reflect the evenness in the distribution of parasite specimens among taxa in each age-sex class and are compatible with differences in their foraging strategy. Finally, we conclude based on the cycles of the heteroxen species that southern lapwings preyed upon molluscs, coleopterans, woodlice and earthworms.
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