Two species of hematozoa, Haemoproteus columbae and H. sacharovi, were observed on thin blood smears from populations of mourning doves (Zenaida macroura) in the Rolling Plains (RP, a semiarid dryland farming and grazing area) and Southern High Plains (SHP, an intensively cultivated and irrigated agricultural region with playa lakes) of western Texas (USA). Prevalences of H. columbae and H. sacharovi were 91 and 18% in doves from the RP (n = 44 doves examined) and 81 and 36% in those from the SHP (n = 84), respectively. Although the prevalences of these species were not significantly different between the RP and SHP, the prevalence of H. sacharovi was significantly greater in juvenile versus adult doves from both localities. Mixed infections of both haemoproteid species occurred in 11 and 24% of the doves from the RP and SHP, respectively. The frequency distributions of the relative density values (numbers of parasites/2,000 erythrocytes counted) of H. columbae and H. sacharovi were overdispersed in hosts from both localities. Relative densities of H. columbae were significantly higher in mourning doves from the RP versus the SHP; likewise those of H. sacharovi were significantly greater in juvenile versus adult doves and between localities. Observed differences in prevalence and relative density of the two species in the haemoproteid community across spatial and host variables may reflect differences in vector transmission and in the physiological and immunological status of the host. This study emphasizes the importance of using adequately quantified density data versus only prevalence data when examining microparasite communities at the component community level.
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Vol. 26 • No. 4