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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

Temporal patterns of occurrence and transmission of the blood parasite Haemoproteus payevskyi in the great reed warbler Acrocephalus arundinaceus

Hasselquist, Dennis; Ostman, Orjan; Waldenstrom, Jonas; Bensch, Staffan


We studied the prevalence and intensity of the haemosporidian blood parasite Haemoproteus payevskyi in great reed warblers at Lake Kvismaren (6 years) and Lake Segersjo (3 years) in Sweden. Based on microscopic inspection of slides from 282 adult birds, 20.6% showed infection of H. payevskyi in circulating red blood cells in at least 1 year. For parasite prevalence, there was no difference between years, sex, and age classes. However, parasite intensity was higher in females than in males, and this was most pronounced in 1-year-old birds. Individuals scored to carry parasites in year (n) were more likely to show parasite infection year (n + 1) than birds scored to be parasite-free in year (n) . None of 99 juvenile birds examined at the breeding site in late summer, 4-9 weeks after hatching, showed infection of H. payevskyi. Parasite intensity in infected adult birds decreased in the course of the breeding season and no new or relapse infections were observed during this period. Thus, our data imply that in the great reed warbler, a long-distance migrant to tropical Africa, transmission of H. payevskyi occurs on wintering sites or at stopover sites during migration.


Acrocephalus arundinaceus; avian malaria; host-parasite interactions; long-distance migration; parasite transmission

Published in

Journal für Ornithologie
2007, Volume: 148, number: 4, pages: 401-409
Publisher: SPRINGER

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