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22 March 2022 A lack of hemosporidian parasites in some grassland songbirds reveals a research need in the Northern Great Plains
Paulson G. Des Brisay, Chelsea Enslow, Nicola Koper
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Abstract

We screened 103 Chestnut-collared Longspurs (Calcarius ornatus) and 69 Savannah Sparrows (Passerculus sandwichensis) captured in Alberta, Canada, for infections from 3 genera of hemosporidian parasites (Haemoproteus, Plasmodium, and Leucocytozoon). We used electrophoresis to visualize bands of PCR product to code for the presence of infections and found no instances of parasitemia among the individuals we tested. To confirm that our method of blood storage and processing did not impede our ability to detect infections that were present, we screened 22 Swamp Sparrows (Melospiza georgiana) in Manitoba, Canada, using the same methods, and detected 5 infections. No previous studies have documented a lack of blood parasites in grassland songbirds, but it is possible that this is a result of publication bias against null results. As climate change shifts vector ranges, naïve populations of grassland songbirds may suffer disproportionately if vector presence or parasite transmissibility is altered.

Paulson G. Des Brisay, Chelsea Enslow, and Nicola Koper "A lack of hemosporidian parasites in some grassland songbirds reveals a research need in the Northern Great Plains," The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 133(3), 457-462, (22 March 2022). https://doi.org/10.1676/19-00057
Received: 6 May 2019; Accepted: 1 October 2021; Published: 22 March 2022
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KEYWORDS
Calcarius
disease ecology
Haemoproteus
mixed-grass prairie
parasite infection
Passerculus
Plasmodium
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