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Prevalence of avian haemosporidian parasites is positively related to the abundance of host species at multiple sites within a region

  • Vincenzo A. Ellis
  • Matthew C.I. Medeiros
  • Michael D. Collins
  • Eloisa H.R. Sari
  • Elyse D. Coffey
  • Rebecca C. Dickerson
  • Camile Lugarini
  • Jeffrey A. Stratford
  • Donata R. Henry
  • Loren Merrill
  • Alix E. Matthews
  • Alison A. Hanson
  • Jackson R. Roberts
  • Michael Joyce
  • Melanie R. Kunkel
  • Robert E Ricklefs
Publishing year: 2017-01-01
Language: English
Pages: 73-80
Publication/Series: Parasitology Research
Volume: 116
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Parasite prevalence is thought to be positively related to host population density owing to enhanced contagion. However, the relationship between prevalence and local abundance of multiple host species is underexplored. We surveyed birds and their haemosporidian parasites (genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) at multiple sites across eastern North America to test whether the prevalence of these parasites in a host species at a particular site is related to that host’s local abundance. Prevalence was positively related to host abundance within most sites, although the effect was stronger and more consistent for Plasmodium than for Haemoproteus. In contrast, prevalence was not related to variation in the abundance of most individual host species among sites across the region. These results suggest that parasite prevalence partly reflects the relative abundances of host species in local assemblages. However, three nonnative host species had low prevalence despite being relatively abundant at one site, as predicted by the enemy release hypothesis.


  • Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Avian malaria
  • Enemy release hypothesis
  • Haemoproteus
  • Host abundance
  • Plasmodium


  • ISSN: 0932-0113
Vincenzo Ellis
E-mail: vincenzo [dot] alexander_ellis [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Visiting research fellow


Sölvegatan 37, Lund