Ecology and diagnosis of introduced avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds

Fact Sheet 2005-3151



Avian malaria is a disease caused by species of protozoan parasites (Plasmodium) that infect birds. Related species commonly infect reptiles, birds and mammals in tropical and temperate regions of the world. Transmitted by mosquitoes, the parasites spend part of their lives in the red blood cells of birds (Figure 1). Avian malaria is common in continental areas, but is absent from the most isolated island archipelagos where mosquitoes do not naturally occur. More than 40 different species of avian Plasmodium have been described, but only one, P. relictum, has been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands. Because they evolved without natural exposure to avian malaria, native Hawaiian honeycreepers are extremely susceptible to this disease. Malaria currently limits the geographic distribution of native species, has population level impacts on survivorship, and is limiting the recovery of threatened and endangered species of forest birds.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Ecology and diagnosis of introduced avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2005-3151
DOI 10.3133/fs20053151
Edition -
Year Published 2005
Language ENGLISH
Publisher Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s) U.S. Geological Survey
Description 4 p.
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