Genetic diversity and host specificity of blood parasites of wading birds in southern Florida
Coker, Sarah Margaret
MetadataShow full item record
White ibis (Eudocimus albus) have become increasingly urbanized, many now relying heavily on urban/suburban habitats. Avian haemosporidia can cause acute disease and reduced fitness. We hypothesized that prevalence of infection differs by site and has high genetic parasite diversity, with some parasites more host species specific than others. Blood from white ibis from Palm Beach, Lee, and Broward Counties in Florida were tested for haemoparasites by analyzing Giemsa-stained thin blood smears and PCR. In Palm Beach, Lee, and Broward Counties, 68%, 61%, and 27% were positive, respectively. Sequences of 139 positives revealed a novel haplotype of Haemoproteus (hWHIB01). Morphologically, parasites were identified as H. plataleae. Parasitemias of 66 positive birds were very low (average 0.085%, range <0.001%-0.890%). An infection with hWHIB01 was detected in a green heron (Butorides virescens). No Plasmodium infections were detected in white ibis, despite sympatric Pelicaniformes from Lee and Broward Counties with Haemoproteus and Plasmodium infections.