The conservation and management of Saddlebacks (Philesturnus carunculatus) and other New Zealand birds, currently relies on the translocation of individuals to predator-free sites. Avian malaria has been identified as one of the diseases to be tested for prior to translocations in New Zealand, with the aim of translocating disease-free individuals. We describe avian malaria lineages and their seasonal prevalence in 2007–2008 in Saddlebacks from Mokoia Island, a source of birds for translocations, and investigate their pathogenicity. Three lineages of avian malaria were found at low prevalence (≥10.6%) and parasitemia (all but one infection were below 1/10,000 erythrocytes), typical of chronic infections. Two lineages clustered with previously identified lineages of Plasmodium relictum and one with a lineage of Plasmodium (Huffia) elongatum. Prevalence of malaria infection was higher in the spring with no significant difference in prevalence between juvenile and adult birds. We found no effect of stress on infections or any indication of pathogenicity.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4