Passerine birds within two California (USA) coastal scrub ecosystems, an island and a mainland site, were examined for hematozoa from 1984 to 1990. Island birds had a significantly lower hematozoan prevalence than mainland birds. This prevalence difference can be related to a lack of appropriate hematozoan vectors on the island. Haemoproteus spp. and Leucocytozoon spp. were the most commonly encountered hematozoa; four new species of Leucocytozoon spp. and one new Haemoproteus sp. were found in five host families. No transmission of hematozoan parasites was detected at the island site during the study. At the mainland coastal scrub site, Leucocytozoon spp. was transmitted each year while Plasmodium spp. and Haemoproteus spp. transmission varied between years. There was evidence that some species of birds acquired infections outside of their breeding season. Results of this study lend further support to the prediction of decreased disease on remote island ecosystems.
Additional publication details
A comparison of avian hematozoan epizootiology in two California coastal scrub communities