Migration distance does not predict blood parasitism in a migratory songbird
- Lund University
- BECC - Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate
Migration can influence host–parasite dynamics in animals by increasing exposure to parasites, by reducing the energy available for immune defense, or by culling of infected individuals. These mechanisms have been demonstrated in several comparative analyses; however, few studies have investigated whether conspecific variation in migration distance may also be related to infection risk. Here, we ask whether autumn migration distance, inferred from stable hydrogen isotope analysis of summer-grown feathers (δ2Hf) in Europe, correlates with blood parasite prevalence and intensity of infection for willow warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus) wintering in Zambia. We also investigated whether infection was correlated with individual condition (assessed via corticosterone, scaled mass index, and feather quality). We found that 43% of birds were infected with Haemoproteus palloris (lineage WW1). Using generalized linear models, we found no relationship between migration distance and either Haemoproteus infection prevalence or intensity. There was spatial variation in breeding ground origins of infected versus noninfected birds, with infected birds originating from more northern sites than noninfected birds, but this difference translated into only slightly longer estimated migration distances (~214 km) for infected birds. We found no relationship between body condition indices and Haemoproteus infection prevalence or intensity. Our results do not support any of the proposed mechanisms for migration effects on host–parasite dynamics and cautiously suggest that other factors may be more important for determining individual susceptibility to disease in migratory bird species.
- disease ecology
- malaria parasites
- Palearctic–African songbird
- ISSN: 2045-7758