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The prevalence of avian Plasmodium is higher in undisturbed tropical forests of Cameroon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2009

Camille Bonneaud
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Irem Sepil
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Borja Milá
Affiliation:
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Wolfgang Buermann
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
John Pollinger
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Ravinder N.M. Sehgal
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA USA
Gediminas Valkiūnas
Affiliation:
Institute of Ecology, Vilnius University, Akademijos 2, LT-08412 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tatjana A. Iezhova
Affiliation:
Institute of Ecology, Vilnius University, Akademijos 2, LT-08412 Vilnius, Lithuania
Sassan Saatchi
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 94132 USA
Thomas B. Smith
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract:

Habitat fragmentation and deforestation are thought to disrupt host–parasite interactions and increase the risk of epizootic outbreaks in wild vertebrates. A total of 220 individuals from three species of African rain-forest bird (Andropadus latirostris, Andropadus virens, Cyanomitra obscura), captured in two pristine and two agroforests in Cameroon, were screened for the presence of avian haemosporidian parasites (species of Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) to test whether habitat differences were associated with differences in the prevalence of infectious diseases in natural populations. Thirteen mitochondrial lineages, including 11 Plasmodium and two Haemoproteus lineages were identified. Whereas levels of Haemoproteus spp. infections were too low to permit analysis, the prevalence of infections with Plasmodium spp. reached significantly greater levels in undisturbed mature forests. Importantly however, the significant association between forest type and parasite prevalence was independent of host density effects, suggesting that the association did not reflect changes in host species composition and abundance between forest types. Our results illustrate how characterizing land-cover differences, and hence changes, may be a prerequisite to understanding and predicting patterns of parasite infections in natural populations of rain-forest birds.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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The prevalence of avian Plasmodium is higher in undisturbed tropical forests of Cameroon
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