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Resource predictability and specialization in avian malaria parasites

Svensson-Coelho, Maria LU ; Loiselle, Bette A.; Blake, John G. and Ricklefs, Robert E (2016) In Molecular Ecology 25(17). p.4377-4391
Abstract
We tested the hypothesis that avian haemosporidian (malaria) parasites specialize on hosts that can be characterized as predictable resources at a site in Amazonian Ecuador. We incorporated host phylogenetic relationship and relative abundance in assessing parasite specialization, and we examined associations between parasite specialization and three host characteristics – abundance, mass and longevity – using quantile regression, phylogenetic logistic regression and t-tests. Hosts of specialist malaria parasite lineages were on average more abundant than hosts of generalist parasite lineages, but the relationship between host abundance and parasite specialization was not consistent across analyses. We also found support for a positive... (More)
We tested the hypothesis that avian haemosporidian (malaria) parasites specialize on hosts that can be characterized as predictable resources at a site in Amazonian Ecuador. We incorporated host phylogenetic relationship and relative abundance in assessing parasite specialization, and we examined associations between parasite specialization and three host characteristics – abundance, mass and longevity – using quantile regression, phylogenetic logistic regression and t-tests. Hosts of specialist malaria parasite lineages were on average more abundant than hosts of generalist parasite lineages, but the relationship between host abundance and parasite specialization was not consistent across analyses. We also found support for a positive association between parasite specialization and host longevity, but this also was not consistent across analyses. Nonetheless, our findings suggest that the predictability of a host resource may play a role in the evolution of specialization. However, we also discuss two alternative explanations to the resource predictability hypothesis for specialization: (i) that interspecific interactions among the parasites themselves might constrain some parasites to a specialist strategy, and (ii) that frequent encounters with multiple host species, mediated by blood-sucking insects, might promote generalization within this system. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
avian malaria, community ecology, ecological specialization, species interactions
in
Molecular Ecology
volume
25
issue
17
pages
15 pages
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • scopus:84986593932
ISSN
0962-1083
DOI
10.1111/mec.13758
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
e051de94-d594-437f-8f8b-50f8b2384a64
date added to LUP
2017-05-09 15:04:15
date last changed
2017-08-13 05:07:26
@article{e051de94-d594-437f-8f8b-50f8b2384a64,
  abstract     = {We tested the hypothesis that avian haemosporidian (malaria) parasites specialize on hosts that can be characterized as predictable resources at a site in Amazonian Ecuador. We incorporated host phylogenetic relationship and relative abundance in assessing parasite specialization, and we examined associations between parasite specialization and three host characteristics – abundance, mass and longevity – using quantile regression, phylogenetic logistic regression and t-tests. Hosts of specialist malaria parasite lineages were on average more abundant than hosts of generalist parasite lineages, but the relationship between host abundance and parasite specialization was not consistent across analyses. We also found support for a positive association between parasite specialization and host longevity, but this also was not consistent across analyses. Nonetheless, our findings suggest that the predictability of a host resource may play a role in the evolution of specialization. However, we also discuss two alternative explanations to the resource predictability hypothesis for specialization: (i) that interspecific interactions among the parasites themselves might constrain some parasites to a specialist strategy, and (ii) that frequent encounters with multiple host species, mediated by blood-sucking insects, might promote generalization within this system.},
  author       = {Svensson-Coelho, Maria and Loiselle, Bette A. and Blake, John G. and Ricklefs, Robert E},
  issn         = {0962-1083},
  keyword      = {avian malaria,community ecology,ecological specialization,species interactions},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {17},
  pages        = {4377--4391},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Molecular Ecology},
  title        = {Resource predictability and specialization in avian malaria parasites},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.13758},
  volume       = {25},
  year         = {2016},
}