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

Pulgarín-R, Paulo C. ; Gómez, Camila ; Bayly, Nicholas J. ; Bensch, Staffan LU ; FitzGerald, Alyssa M. ; Starkloff, Naima ; Kirchman, Jeremy J. ; González-Prieto, Ana M. ; Hobson, Keith A. and Ungvari-Martin, Judith , et al. (2019) In Journal of Biogeography 46(1). p.83-96
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... (More)

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.

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published
subject
keywords
Grey-cheeked thrush, Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, migration, Plasmodium, stopover
in
Journal of Biogeography
volume
46
issue
1
pages
83 - 96
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:85056657824
ISSN
0305-0270
DOI
10.1111/jbi.13453
project
Centre for Animal Movement Research
language
English
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yes
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ac5abaf6-0394-417a-88d8-ddc6d5d8f0ee
date added to LUP
2018-11-28 15:00:51
date last changed
2019-11-20 05:32:32
@article{ac5abaf6-0394-417a-88d8-ddc6d5d8f0ee,
  abstract     = {<p>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.</p>},
  author       = {Pulgarín-R, Paulo C. and Gómez, Camila and Bayly, Nicholas J. and Bensch, Staffan and FitzGerald, Alyssa M. and Starkloff, Naima and Kirchman, Jeremy J. and González-Prieto, Ana M. and Hobson, Keith A. and Ungvari-Martin, Judith and Skeen, Heather and Castaño, María Isabel and Cadena, Carlos Daniel},
  issn         = {0305-0270},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {83--96},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Journal of Biogeography},
  title        = {Migratory birds as vehicles for parasite dispersal? Infection by avian haemosporidians over the year and throughout the range of a long-distance migrant},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13453},
  doi          = {10.1111/jbi.13453},
  volume       = {46},
  year         = {2019},
}