Migratory birds as vehicles for parasite dispersal? Infection by avian haemosporidians over the year and throughout the range of a long-distance migrant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Aim: The role of migratory birds in the spread of parasites is poorly known, in part because migratory strategies and behaviours potentially affecting transmission are not easy to study. We investigated the dynamics of infection by blood parasites through the annual cycle of a long-distance Nearctic–Neotropical migratory songbird to examine the role of this species in dispersing parasites between continents. Location: The Americas. Taxon: Grey-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus, Aves, Passeriformes, Turdidae), Birds. Methods: We used molecular and microscopy screening of haemosporidian parasites (Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon) to examine the prevalence, distribution, and diversity of lineages through the annual cycle (breeding, migration, and wintering) of the grey-cheeked thrush in North and Central America, Santa Marta mountains, the Andes, and the Amazon. We aimed to identify transmission areas, to examine the degree of sharing of haemosporidian lineages with resident birds in various areas and to assess the potential role of immunologically naïve juvenile individuals in parasite transmission. Results: Prevalence and lineage diversity of haemosporidians varied significantly over time, being higher during breeding and fall and spring migration, and declining during wintering. Grey-cheeked thrush shared few parasite lineages with tropical resident birds and slightly more lineages with other migratory and resident boreal species. We detected gametocytes in blood during spring migration stopover, but these were of lineages not found in resident tropical birds, indicating relapses of parasites transmitted elsewhere. Transmission likely occurs mostly on the breeding grounds, where juveniles and adults carried lineages restricted to closely related species of thrushes and other species of boreal birds. Main conclusions: Long-distance migratory songbirds are likely not important dispersers of blood parasites because there are ecological and evolutionary barriers to the interchange of parasites across vastly separated areas. Further work with thorough spatial and temporal sampling across other species, and considering the role of vectors, is necessary to understand the ecological and evolutionary factors explaining the distribution of parasites over broad scales.

Details

Authors
  • Paulo C. Pulgarín-R
  • Camila Gómez
  • Nicholas J. Bayly
  • Staffan Bensch
  • Alyssa M. FitzGerald
  • Naima Starkloff
  • Jeremy J. Kirchman
  • Ana M. González-Prieto
  • Keith A. Hobson
  • Judith Ungvari-Martin
  • Heather Skeen
  • María Isabel Castaño
  • Carlos Daniel Cadena
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of los Andes, Columbia
  • University at Albany, SUNY
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • Environment Canada
  • University of Western Ontario
  • Florida Museum Natural History
  • University of Chicago
  • SELVA: Research for Conservation in the Neotropics
  • New York State Museum
  • University of Florida
  • The Field Museum of Natural History
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology
  • Microbiology

Keywords

  • Grey-cheeked thrush, Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, migration, Plasmodium, stopover
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-96
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Volume46
Issue number1
Early online date2018 Nov 15
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Related projects

Niklas Larsson, Atticus Pinzon-Rodriguez, Arne Hegemann, Brianne Addison, Charlie Cornwallis, Giuseppe Bianco, INGRID SASSENHAGEN, Jerker Vinterstare, Julian Melgar, Julio Neto, Lasse Jakobsen, Mikael Ekvall, Mihaela Ilieva, Natalia Annenkova, Pallavi Chauhan, Sylvie Tesson, Yannis Vardanis, Catherine Tayleur, Emily Baird, Olle Lind, Jakob Löndahl, Tina Santl-Temkiv, Anders Hedenström, Åke Lindström, Anders Nilsson, Bengt Hansson, Dennis Hasselquist, Erik Svensson, Henrik Smith, Helena Westerdahl, Jan-Åke Nilsson, Johan Bäckman, Katarina Hedlund, Lars Råberg, Maria Ingimarsdottir, Martin Green, Maria Sandell, Martin Stjernman, Nils Kjellén, Ola Olsson, Rachel Muheim, Richard Ottvall, Staffan Bensch, Xiuhong Yang, Sara Snogerup-Linse, Heiner Linke, Mikkel Brydegaard Sorensen, Patrik Lundin, Sune Svanberg, Zuguang Guan, Ann-Sofie Albrekt, Anders Hargeby, Anders Persson, Christer Brönmark, Emma Kritzberg, Karin Rengefors, Lars-Anders Hansson, Olof Berglund, Wilhelm Granéli, Alice Nicolle, Ben Chapman, Christian Skov, Johan Ahlgren, Jakob Brodersen, Jessica von Einem, Kaj Hulthén, Kelly Gutseit, Karen Lebret, Lynn Ranåker, MATTIAS EKVALL, Mercy Lard, MIKAEL JÖNSSON, PER HALLGREN, Peter Ljungberg, Samuel Hylander, Tony Fagerberg, Therese Jephson, Tomas Johansson, Bjorn Canback, Bengt Danielsson, Christoffer Johansson, Emma Ådahl, Florian Muijres, Jörgen Ripa, Melissa Bowlin, Niclas Jonzén, Per Henningsson, Roger Härdling, Andreas Nord, Arzu Gursoy, Asghar Muhammad, Anna Nilsson, Anna Runemark, Barbara Tschirren, Cecilia Nilsson, Håkan Karlsson, Irene Pala, Juliana Dänhardt, Johan Nilsson, Jens Rydell, Jonas Waldenström, Keith Larson, Kristina Karlsson, Kristin Scherman, Mikael Åkesson, Martin Andersson, Maja Tarka, Maren Wellenreuther, Max Lundberg, Miriam Liedvogel, Maj Rundlöf, Martin Wintersparv Stervander, Machteld Verzijden, Olof Hellgren, Raymond Klaassen, Roine Strandberg, Susanne Åkesson, SANDRA SKÖLD CHIRIAC, Sophia Engel, Sissel Sjöberg, Sara Naurin, Thomas Alerstam, Tom J Evans, Torbjörn von Schantz, Ulf Ottosson, Marie Dacke & Helena Osvath

2008/06/012018/12/31

Project: Research

View all (1)