Spatially different annual cycles but similar haemosporidian infections in distant populations of collared sand martins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background
Populations of long-distance migratory birds experience different environments and are consequently exposed to different parasites throughout their annual cycles. Though, specific whereabouts and accompanied host-parasite interactions remain unknown for most migratory passerines. Collared sand martins (Riparia riparia) breeding in the western Palaearctic spend the nonbreeding period in Africa, but it is not yet clear whether specific populations differ in overwintering locations and whether these also result in varying infections with vector-transmitted endoparasites.

Results
Geolocator tracking revealed that collared sand martins from northern-central and central-eastern Europe migrate to distant nonbreeding sites in West Africa and the Lake Chad basin in central Africa, respectively. While the ranges of these populations were clearly separated throughout the year, they consistently spent up to 60% of the annual cycle in Africa. Ambient light recorded by geolocators further indicated unsheltered roosting during the nonbreeding season in Africa compared to the breeding season in Europe.

We found 5–26% prevalence of haemosporidian parasites in three breeding populations and one migratory passage population that was only sampled but not tracked. In total, we identified seven Plasmodium and nine Haemoproteus lineages (incl. two and seven new lineages, respectively), the latter presumably typical for swallows (Hirundinae) hosts. 99.5% of infections had a low intensity, typical for chronic infection stages, whereas three individuals (0.5%) showed high parasitaemia typical for acute infections during spring migration and breeding.

Conclusions
Our study shows that blood parasite infections are common in several western Palaearctic breeding populations of collared sand martins who spent the nonbreeding season in West Africa and the lake Chad region. Due to long residency at the nonbreeding grounds blood parasite transmissions may mainly occur at host population-specific residences sites in Europe and Africa; the latter being likely facilitated by unsheltered roosting and thus high vulnerability to hematophagous insects. The rare cases of high parasitaemia during spring migration and breeding further indicates either relapses of chronic infection or primary infections which occurred shortly before migration and during breeding.

Details

Authors
  • Steffen Hahn
  • Martins Briedis
  • Christos Barboutis
  • Raffaella Schmid
  • Martin Schulze
  • Nina Seifert
  • Tibor Szép
  • Tamara Emmenegger
Organisations
External organisations
  • The Swiss Ornithological Institute
  • Hellenic Ornithological Society, Athens
  • Michael Succow Foundation
  • RANA, Agency for Ecology and Nature Conservation
  • University of Nyíregyháza
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology

Keywords

  • Migration, Blood parasites, Parasitaemia, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, Geolocation
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Zoology
Volume6
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes