A review of global diversity in avian haemosporidians (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus: Haemosporida): new insights from molecular data
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Biogeographic patterns of parasite diversity are useful for determining how host-parasite interactions can influence speciation. However, variation in methodologies and sampling effort can skew diversity estimates. Avian haemosporidians are vector-transmitted blood parasites represented by over 1300 unique genetic lineages spread across over 40 countries. We used a global database of lineage distribu- tions for two avian haemosporidian genera, Plasmodium and Haemoproteus, to test for congruence of diversity among haemosporidians and their avian hosts across 13 geographic regions. We demonstrated that avian haemosporidians exhibit similar diversity patterns to their avian hosts; however, specific pat- terns differ between genera. Haemoproteus spp. diversity estimates were significantly higher than those of Plasmodium spp. in all areas where the genera co-occurred, apart from the Plasmodium spp.-rich region of South America. The geographic distributions of parasite genera also differed, with Haemoproteus spp. absent from the majority of oceanic regions while Plasmodium spp. were cosmopolitan. These findings suggest fundamental differences in the way avian haemosporidians diverge and colonise new communi- ties. Nevertheless, a review of the literature suggests that accurate estimates of avian haemosporidian diversity patterns are limited by (i) a concentration of sampling towards passerines from Europe and North America, (ii) a frequent failure to include microscopic techniques together with molecular screen- ing and (iii) a paucity of studies investigating distributions across vector hosts.
International Journal for Parasitology
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.