To date it is not well-understood how seasonality and human-induced habitat change may affect haemosporidian prevalence and parasitaemia in bird hosts in dryland habitats. We compared haemosporidian prevalence and parasitaemia between habitat types, including Yucca-dominated scrublands (closed habitat) and creosotebush scrublands (open habitat), and between seasons, including non-breeding (dry) and breeding (wet) in the Black-throated sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata) at semi-arid scrublands of Central Mexico. This bird species has different habitat preferences in comparison to other, previously studied species in the region; it shows higher abundances in open than in closed habitats and avoids urban areas. Overall haemosporidian prevalence was 22.1%. Prevalence and parasitaemia were higher for Haemoproteus sp. (Parahaemoproteus sp.) than Plasmodium. Variation in haemoparasitism was not associated with habitat type. This response differs from the previously recorded response in other bird species in the region for which haemoparasitism increases with increasing habitat degradation. Seasonality seems to be the most important driver of parasite infection for this sparrow as prevalence and parasitaemia were higher during the breeding than the non-breeding season. Two new lineages of Haemoproteus sp. that had not been reported before in any avian species were found through molecular diagnosis. A high diversity of haemosporidian lineages is shared among sites. More study is needed to understand the mechanisms that associate parasitaemia, prevalence, and specific environmental factors.
Parasitology Research – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 1, 2017
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