Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

From Galapagos doves to passerines: spillover of Haemoproteus multipigmentatus.

Abstract

Haemoproteus (Haemoproteus) multipigmentatus, a haemosporidian parasite thought to be specific to columbiform birds, was detected in passeriform birds on Santiago Island in the Galapagos archipelago. We surveyed birds along an altitudinal gradient on the islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and Santiago between June 2013 and July 2015. Molecular screening of 2254 individuals from 25 species of endemic and introduced birds revealed clusters of passerine birds positive for H. multipigmentatus on Santiago Island that coincide with captures of Galapagos doves at sampled sites. Of 507 individuals from 10 species of endemic passerines sampled on Santiago, 58 individuals from 6 species were found positive (11% prevalence). However, no gametocytes were found in the blood smears of positive passerines, suggesting that these species are not competent hosts for the parasite. All 31 doves captured were positive and gametocytes were found upon microscopic examination of all thin blood smears (averaging 357 gametocytes per 10,000 erythrocytes). These findings indicate parasite spillover from doves to passerines, but that passerines are possibly not competent hosts for further parasite transmission. The endemic Galapagos dove acts as a reservoir host for the introduced H. multipigmentatus, however the effect of this parasite on passerines has not been studied. We report on these findings because parasites can have large effects on individual host populations and on the ecology of a community, but may go undetected.