Prevalence of avian haemosporidian parasites is positively related to the abundance of host species at multiple sites within a region

Vincenzo A. Ellis, Matthew C. I. Medeiros, Michael D. Collins, Eloisa H. R. Sari, Elyse D. Coffey, Rebecca C. Dickerson, Camile Lugarini, Jeffrey A. Stratford, Donata R. Henry, Loren Merrill, Alix E. Matthews, Alison A. Hanson, Jackson R. Roberts, Michael Joyce, Melanie R. Kunkel, Robert E. Ricklefs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Parasite prevalence is thought to be positively related to host population density owing to enhanced contagion. However, the relationship between prevalence and local abundance of multiple host species is underexplored. We surveyed birds and their haemosporidian parasites (genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) at multiple sites across eastern North America to test whether the prevalence of these parasites in a host species at a particular site is related to that host’s local abundance. Prevalence was positively related to host abundance within most sites, although the effect was stronger and more consistent for Plasmodium than for Haemoproteus. In contrast, prevalence was not related to variation in the abundance of most individual host species among sites across the region. These results suggest that parasite prevalence partly reflects the relative abundances of host species in local assemblages. However, three nonnative host species had low prevalence despite being relatively abundant at one site, as predicted by the enemy release hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-80
Number of pages8
JournalParasitology Research
Volume116
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Keywords

  • INHS
  • Avian malaria
  • Plasmodium
  • Host abundance
  • Enemy release hypothesis
  • Haemoproteus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology

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