The hemosporid community of 76 wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) from South Carolina (USA) was examined using thin blood smears collected during January and February 1994. High prevalences and low abundances of hemosporids characterized this community. Leucocytozoon smithi and Haemoproteus meleagridis occurred in 100% and 54% of the turkeys, respectively; a Plasmodium sp. was found in one bird. Prevalence of H. meleagridis was significantly higher in juvenile turkeys than adults, but prevalences did not differ significantly among four trap sites or by host sex. Mean (±SE) intensities of L. smithi, H. meleagridis, and Plasmodium sp. were 3.4 ± 0.4, 1.8 ± 0.3, and 3.0 per 10,000 erythrocytes, respectively. Abundances of L. smithi, H. meleagridis, and Plasmodium sp. were 3.4 ± 0.4, 0.9 ± 0.2, and <0.1 ± <0.1 per 10,000 erythrocytes, respectively. Juvenile turkeys had higher rank abundance values of L. smithi than adults, whereas no differences were found among trap sites or between sexes. No differences in rank abundances of H. meleagridis were found among trap sites, host age, or host sex variables. Collectively, both common hemosporid species varied by host age, reflecting higher abundances in juvenile turkeys. Patterns of hemosporid prevalence appeared similar to patterns found in subtropical regions. Based on our data, we recommend using prevalence and abundance data to analyze the structure and pattern of hemosporid communities at the component community level.
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Vol. 31 • No. 3