Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

Abstract

Our knowledge of avian Haemosporidian parasites has increased dramatically with the advent and increased used of molecular technologies. Yet Leucocytozoon, a common avian parasite, remains relatively understudied. Haemosporidian parasite diversity and prevalence has been shown to be dependent on several factors, including host family and habitat, on a microecological scale. In this study I screened 3,375 birds from sub-Saharan Africa for the presence of Leucocytozoon and demonstrate that the patterns of prevalence and diversity continue at a macroecological scale. Using molecular data, I found that the prevalence of Leucocytozoon varied between sampling areas from 3.9% to 62.64% and the diversity between parasite lineages varied from 0.1% to 16.6%. The high variation in prevalence between sampling areas indicated that there are significant factors affecting this parasite ability to transmit between hosts. Through statistical tests, I determined that host family, geographic region, and habitat all influence the prevalence of Leucocytozoon. Additionally, by analyzing the distribution of parasite lineages I demonstrate that the 326 unique lineages recovered in this study are a small fraction of the overall number of parasites that may be present within the host populations. The results of this study provide insight into the true diversity of this parasite and the differences in prevalence across sampling areas.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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