Investigating the spatial distribution of avian blood parasites can shed light on the occurrence of host switching and expansion in new territories, two key factors for which to account when addressing future parasite impacts on vertebrates. We examined the mitochondrial cytochrome b lineages of haemosporidians infecting the white-throated dipper Cinclus cinclus in order to assess their distribution across five mountains in the Central Iberian Peninsula and the possible implications of lineage transmission in that geographical context. Of 71 host individuals, 79.6% were infected with Haemoproteus spp., 0.9% with Plasmodium spp. and 19.5% with Leucocytozoon spp. We identified seven lineages from genus Haemoproteus spp. (four were novel), one lineage of Plasmodium spp. and nine of Leucocytozoon spp. (five previously undescribed). Only two of the Haemoproteus lineages (RW1 and MW1) showed widespread distribution across the study sites whereas the novel lineages each corresponded to a single area. Given the non-migratory behaviour of the host species in the region, our results provide the first proof of LeucocytozoonWW6 lineage transmission within Europe. Furthermore, this study is the first to reveal the transmission in Europe of Haemoproteus payevskyi and Haemoproteus nucleocondensus, corresponding to the identified RW1 and GRW01 lineages respectively. Both findings support the idea that these lineages could be transmitted year-round transcontinentally.
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Vol. 62 • No. 2