Parasitology Research

, Volume 117, Issue 2, pp 471–489 | Cite as

Prevalence and diversity of avian Haemosporida infecting songbirds in southwest Michigan

  • Jamie D. Smith
  • Sharon A. Gill
  • Kathleen M. Baker
  • Maarten J. Vonhof
Original Paper


Avian blood parasites from the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon (Haemosporida) affect hosts in numerous ways. They influence species interactions, host behavior, reproductive success, and cause pathology and mortality in birds. The Great Lakes region of North America has extensive aquatic and wetland habitat and supports a diverse vector community. Here we describe the community of bird-infecting Haemosporida in southwest Michigan and their host associations by measuring parasite prevalence, diversity, and host breadth across a diverse community of avian hosts. Over 700 songbirds of 55 species were screened for Haemosporida infection across southwest Michigan, including 11 species that were targeted for larger sample sizes. In total, 71 parasite lineages infected over 40% of birds. Of these, 42 were novel, yet richness estimates suggest that approximately half of the actual parasite diversity in the host community was observed despite intensive sampling of multiple host species. Parasite prevalence varied among parasite genera (7–24%) and target host species (0–85%), and parasite diversity was consistently high across most target species. Host breadth varied widely across the most prevalent parasite lineages, and we detected around 60% of host species richness for these parasite lineages. We report many new lineages and novel host-parasite associations, but substantial parasite diversity remains undiscovered in the Midwest.


Birds Disease Haemosporida Host associations Prevalence Diversity 


Funding information

Funding was provided by Western Michigan University.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standards

All applicable federal, state, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed in this study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

436_2017_5724_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.8 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 5.81 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamie D. Smith
    • 1
  • Sharon A. Gill
    • 1
  • Kathleen M. Baker
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maarten J. Vonhof
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeographyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  3. 3.W.E. Upjohn Center for the Study of Geographical ChangeWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA
  4. 4.Institute of the Environment and SustainabilityWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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