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Prevalence of haemosporidians in a Neotropical endemic bird area

By Catalina Gonzalez-Quevedo, Adriana Pabón and Hector Fabio. Rivera-Gutierrez

Abstract

Haemosporidians are vector-transmitted intracellular parasites that occur in many bird species worldwide and may have important implications for wild bird populations. Surveys of haemosporidians have traditionally focused on Europe and North America, and only recently have they been carried out in the Neotropics, where the prevalence and impacts of the disease have been less studied and are not well understood. In this study we carried out a survey in the endemic bird area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (SNSM), an isolated coastal massif in northern Colombia that contains a large number of biomes and that is experiencing high rates of habitat loss. We sampled birds from 25 species at 2 different altitudes (1640 and 2100 m asl) and determined avian haemosporidian infection by polymerase chain reaction and sequencing a portion of the cytochrome b (cyt b) gene of the parasite. From the sampled birds, 32.1% were infected by at least 1 of 12 unique cyt b lineages of haemosporidian genera: Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon, Haemoproteus, and subgenus Parahaemoproteus. We found a higher prevalence of avian haemosporidians at low altitudes (1640 m asl). All endemic bird species we sampled had at least one individual infected with avian haemosporidians. We also found evidence of higher overall prevalence among endemic rather than nonendemic birds, suggesting higher susceptibility in endemic birds. Overall, our findings suggest a high haemosporidian species richness in the bird community of the SNSM. Considering the rate of habitat loss that this area is experiencing, it is important to understand how avian haemosporidians affect bird populations; furthermore, more exhaustive sampling is required to fully comprehend the extent of avian haemosporidian infection in the area

Topics: avian malaria, endemic bird area, haemosporidian, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Plant culture, SB1-1110, Environmental sciences, GE1-350, Plant ecology, QK900-989
Publisher: Resilience Alliance
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.5751/ACE-00834-110107
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:a4694b025ea246ac84e1211b78bf901f
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