Habitat fragmentation and ecological traits influence the prevalence of avian blood parasites in a tropical rainforest landscape

Laurance, Susan G.W., Jones, Dean, Westcott, David, McKeown, Adam, Harrington, Graham, and Hilbert, David W. (2013) Habitat fragmentation and ecological traits influence the prevalence of avian blood parasites in a tropical rainforest landscape. PLoS ONE, 8 (10). pp. 1-8.

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Abstract

In the tropical rainforests of northern Australia, we investigated the effects of habitat fragmentation and ecological parameters on the prevalence of blood-borne parasites (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) in bird communities. Using mist-nets on forest edges and interiors, we sampled bird communities across six study sites: 3 large fragments (20–85 ha) and 3 continuous-forest sites. From 335 mist-net captures, we recorded 28 bird species and screened 299 bird samples with PCR to amplify and detect target DNA. Of the 28 bird species sampled, 19 were infected with Plasmodium and/or Haemoproteus and 9 species were without infection. Over one third of screened birds (99 individuals) were positive for Haemoproteus and/or Plasmodium. In forest fragments, bird capture rates were significantly higher than in continuous forests, but bird species richness did not differ. Unexpectedly, we found that the prevalence of the dominant haemosporidian infection, Haemoproteus, was significantly higher in continuous forest than in habitat fragments. Further, we found that ecological traits such as diet, foraging height, habitat specialisation and distributional ranges were significantly associated with blood-borne infections.

Item ID: 30530
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1932-6203
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© 2013 Laurance et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Projects and Grants: Commonwealth Environment Research Facility MTSRF grant
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2013 02:19
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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