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Transcontinental migratory connectivity predicts parasite prevalence in breeding populations of the European barn swallow

Author:
  • J. A. C. von Roenn
  • C. Harrod
  • Staffan Bensch
  • J. B. W. Wolf
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 535-546
Publication/Series: Journal of evolutionary biology
Volume: 28
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Abstract english

Parasites exert a major impact on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of their hosts and the associated biotic environment. Migration constitutes an effective means for long-distance invasions of vector-borne parasites and promotes their rapid spread. Yet, ecological and spatial information on population-specific host-parasite connectivity is essentially lacking. Here, we address this question in a system consisting of a transcontinental migrant species, the European barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) which serves as a vector for avian endoparasites in the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus andLeucocytozoon. Using feather stable isotope ratios as geographically informative markers, we first assessed migratory connectivity in the host: Northern European breeding populations predominantly overwintered in dry, savannah-like habitats in Southern Africa, whereas Southern European populations were associated with wetland habitats in Western Central Africa. Wintering areas of swallows breeding in Central Europe indicated a migratory divide with both migratory programmes occurring within the same breeding population. Subsequent genetic screens of parasites in the breeding populations revealed a link between the host's migratory programme and its parasitic repertoire: controlling for effects of local breeding location, prevalence of Africa-transmitted Plasmodium lineages was significantly higher in individuals overwintering in the moist habitats of Western Central Africa, even among sympatrically breeding individuals with different overwintering locations. For the rarer Haemoproteus parasites, prevalence was best explained by breeding location alone, whereas no clear pattern emerged for the least abundant parasite Leucocytozoon. These results have implications for our understanding of spatio-temporal host-parasite dynamics in migratory species and the spread of avian borne diseases.

Keywords

  • Biological Sciences
  • avian malaria
  • avian migration
  • disease ecology
  • host-parasite
  • interaction
  • plasmodium
  • stable isotope
  • C-13
  • N-15

Other

Published
  • Malaria in birds
  • Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab
  • ISSN: 1420-9101
Staffan Bensch
E-mail: staffan [dot] bensch [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Professor

MEMEG

+46 46 222 42 92

E-C213

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Head of unit

MEMEG

+46 46 222 42 92

E-C213

Sölvegatan 37, Lund

50

Research group

Molecular Ecology and Evolution Lab

Projects

Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

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