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Correlates of blood parasitism in a threatened marshland passerine: infection by kinetoplastids of the genus Trypanosoma is related to landscape metrics of habitat edge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2019

Justyna Kubacka*
Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Wilcza 64, 00-679 Warsaw, Poland
Alina Gerlée
Department of Geoecology, Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies, University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 30, 00-927 Warsaw, Poland
Julien Foucher
Association pour la Connaissance et la Recherche Ornithologique Loire et Atlantique (ACROLA), 10 rue de la Paix, 44480 Donges, France
Judith Korb
Evolutionary Biology and Ecology, Institute of Biology I (Zoology), Hauptstrasse 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany
Edyta Podmokła
Department of Comparative Anatomy, Institute of Zoology and Biomedical Research, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 9, 30-387 Kraków, Poland
Author for correspondence: Justyna Kubacka, E-mail:


In birds, vector-borne parasites invading the bloodstream are important agents of disease, affect fitness and shape population viability, thus being of conservation interest. Here, we molecularly identified protozoan blood parasites in two populations of the threatened Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, a migratory passerine nesting in open marsh. We explored whether prevalence and lineage diversity of the parasites vary by population and whether infection status is explained by landscape metrics of habitat edge and individual traits (body mass, fat score, wing length and sex). Aquatic Warblers were infected by genera Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon and Trypanosoma, with seven, one and four lineages, and 29.9, 0.7 and 12.5% prevalence, respectively. No Haemoproteus infections were detected. Prevalence did not vary between the populations, but lineage diversity was higher in Polesie than in Biebrza for all the lineages pooled and for Plasmodium. Infection by Trypanosoma decreased with patch core area and increased with density of habitat edge. Infection status was not predicted by the individual traits. Our study is the first to show an association between edge-related landscape features and blood parasitism in an open habitat bird. This finding will support informed conservation measures for avian species of the globally shrinking marshland and other treeless habitats.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2019 

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Correlates of blood parasitism in a threatened marshland passerine: infection by kinetoplastids of the genus Trypanosoma is related to landscape metrics of habitat edge
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Correlates of blood parasitism in a threatened marshland passerine: infection by kinetoplastids of the genus Trypanosoma is related to landscape metrics of habitat edge
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