Resource predictability and specialization in avian malaria parasites

Resource predictability and specialization in avian malaria parasites

Author Svensson-Coelho, Maria Autor UNIFESP Google Scholar
Loiselle, Bette A. Google Scholar
Blake, John G. Google Scholar
Ricklefs, Robert E. Google Scholar
Abstract We tested the hypothesis that avian haemosporidian (malaria) parasites specialize on hosts that can be characterized as predictable resources at a site in Amazonian Ecuador. We incorporated host phylogenetic relationship and relative abundance in assessing parasite specialization, and we examined associations between parasite specialization and three host characteristics - abundance, mass and longevity - using quantile regression, phylogenetic logistic regression and t-tests. Hosts of specialist malaria parasite lineages were on average more abundant than hosts of generalist parasite lineages, but the relationship between host abundance and parasite specialization was not consistent across analyses. We also found support for a positive association between parasite specialization and host longevity, but this also was not consistent across analyses. Nonetheless, our findings suggest that the predictability of a host resource may play a role in the evolution of specialization. However, we also discuss two alternative explanations to the resource predictability hypothesis for specialization: (i) that interspecific interactions among the parasites themselves might constrain some parasites to a specialist strategy, and (ii) that frequent encounters with multiple host species, mediated by blood-sucking insects, might promote generalization within this system.
Keywords avian malaria
community ecology
ecological specialization
species interactions
Language English
Sponsor Dissertation Fellowship
John Denver Fellowship from the Harris World Ecology Center at UMSL
National Science Foundation [IBN 0235141]
Audubon Society Missouri, St. Louis
Sigma Xi
Sao Paulo Science Foundation [FAPESP 2012/08576-6, 2015/17523-1]
Grant number NSF:IBN0235141
Date 2016
Published in Molecular Ecology. Hoboken, v. 25, n. 17, p. 4377-4391, 2016.
ISSN 0962-1083 (Sherpa/Romeo, impact factor)
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Extent 4377-4391
Access rights Closed access
Type Article
Web of Science ID WOS:000383343800019

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