Haemosporidian prevalence and parasitaemia
in the Black-throated sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata)
in central-Mexican dryland habitats
J. G. Ham-Dueñas
C. M. Stracey
Received: 12 May 2017 /Accepted: 19 July 2017 /Published online: 1 August 2017
Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017
Abstract 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 re-
sponse in other bird species in the region for which
haemoparasitism increases with increasing habitat degra-
dation. 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 associ-
ate parasitaemia, prevalence, and specific environmental
Keywords Amphispiza bilineata
Haemosporidian parasites (Phylum Apicomplexa, order
Haemosporidia) influence the population ecology of their hosts
in ways and to an extent that are not yet completely understood.
Therefore, the study of factors influencing haemosporidian
prevalence of infection and parasitaemia contributes to our un-
derstanding of how these associations may influence host ecol-
ogy (Kiszewski et al. 2004;Valkiūnas 2004;Cox2010). In dry
land habitats, which cover a vast geographical extent, and har-
bor extraordinarily high diversity, haemosporidian prevalence is
highly variable (0 to 92.5%) (Blanco et al. 2001; Valera et al.
2003; Deviche et al. 2005; Fokidis et al. 2008;Barrientosetal.
2014; Reinoso-Pérez et al. 2016), and current knowledge related
to the ecological factors influencing haemosporidian prevalence
and parasitaemia in these habitats is still limited.
Human-induced habitat change may influence parasite-host
interactions in different directions (Budria and Candolin
2014). The effects of habitat modification (i.e., urbanization
and deforestation) on blood parasite prevalence range from
positive (Chasar et al. 2009; Delgado-V and French 2012)to
negative (Bennett et al. 1992; Tella et al. 1999; Arriero et al.
2008; Fokidis et al. 2008; Delgado-V and French 2012;
Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article
(doi:10.1007/s00436-017-5562-3) contains supplementary material,
which is available to authorized users.
* L. Chapa-Vargas
S.L.P. C.P, Instituto Potosino de Investigación Científica y
Tecnológica A.C, Camino a la Presa San José 2055, Colonia Lomas
4a Sección, 78216 San Luis Potosí, Mexico
Guilford College, 5800 West Friendly Avenue,
Greensboro, NC 27410, USA
Parasitol Res (2017) 116:2527–2537