Research Summary: Prevalence and Lineage Diversity of Avian Haemosporidians from Three Distinct Cerrado Habitats in Brazil


Habitat alteration can disrupt host–parasite interactions and lead to the emergence of new diseases in wild populations. The cerrado habitat of Brazil is being fragmented and degraded rapidly by agriculture and urbanization. We screened 676 wild birds from three habitats (intact cerrado, disturbed cerrado and transition area Amazonian rainforest-cerrado) for the presence of haemosporidian parasites (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) to determine whether different habitats were associated with differences in the prevalence and diversity of infectious diseases in natural populations. Twenty one mitochondrial lineages, including 11 from Plasmodium and 10 from Haemoproteus were identified. Neither prevalence nor diversity of infections by Plasmodium spp. or Haemoproteus spp. differed significantly among the three habitats. However, 15 of the parasite lineages had not been previously described and might be restricted to these habitats or to the region. Six haemosporidian lineages previously known from other regions, particularly the Caribbean Basin, comprised 50–80% of the infections in each of the samples, indicating a regional relationship between parasite distribution and abundance.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 8-March-2011

Author(s): Belo N., Pinheiro R., Reis E., Ricklefs R., Braga É.


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