Oecologia

, Volume 168, Issue 3, pp 691–701 | Cite as

Biogeographical patterns and co-occurrence of pathogenic infection across island populations of Berthelot’s pipit (Anthus berthelotii)

  • Lewis G. Spurgin
  • Juan Carlos Illera
  • David P. Padilla
  • David S. Richardson
Population ecology - Original Paper

Abstract

Pathogens can exert strong selective forces upon host populations. However, before we can make any predictions about the consequences of pathogen-mediated selection, we first need to determine whether patterns of pathogen distribution are consistent over spatiotemporal scales. We used molecular techniques to screen for a variety of blood pathogens (avian malaria, pox and trypanosomes) over a three-year time period across 13 island populations of the Berthelot’s pipit (Anthus berthelotii). This species has only recently dispersed across its range in the North Atlantic, with little subsequent migration, providing an ideal opportunity to examine the causes and effects of pathogenic infection in populations in the early stages of differentiation. We screened 832 individuals, and identified two strains of Plasmodium, four strains of Leucocytozoon, and one pox strain. We found strong differences in pathogen prevalence across populations, ranging from 0 to 65%, and while some fluctuations in prevalence occurred, these differences were largely stable over the time period studied. Smaller, more isolated islands harboured fewer pathogen strains than larger, less isolated islands, indicating that at the population level, colonization and extinction play an important role in determining pathogen distribution. Individual-level analyses confirmed the island effect, and also revealed a positive association between Plasmodium and pox infection, which could have arisen due to dual transmission of the pathogens by the same vectors, or because one pathogen lowers resistance to the other. Our findings, combined with an effect of infection on host body condition, suggest that Berthelot’s pipits are subject to different levels of pathogen-mediated selection both across and within populations, and that these selective pressures are consistent over time.

Keywords

Malaria Pox Island Bird Species–area relationship 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The Canary and Madeiran governments kindly gave permission to work in Macaronesia. Laura García and Felipe Rodríguez-Godoy provided invaluable assistance in the field. Kirsty Hodgson, Sarah Holmes and David Wright assisted with the molecular work, and James Kitson helped with the figures. The local governments of Fuerteventura, La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro provided accommodation. José Ramón Rodríguez-Delgado provided accommodation in Lanzarote. Staff from the Natural Park of Madeira provided logistical support in the Madeiran and Selvagens archipelagos, and the Portuguese Navy helped with transport to Selvagem Grande and Deserta Grande. We thank two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript. This work was funded by a Ph.D. Grant from the Natural Environment Research Council to DSR and LGS, and a Spanish fellowship (Ramón y Cajal program) to JCI.

Supplementary material

442_2011_2149_MOESM1_ESM.doc (35 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 35 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lewis G. Spurgin
    • 1
  • Juan Carlos Illera
    • 2
    • 3
  • David P. Padilla
    • 1
    • 2
  • David S. Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Biological SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group, (IPNA-CSIC)TenerifeSpain
  3. 3.Research Unit of Biodiversity (UO/CSIC/PA), Departamento de Biología de Organismos y SistemasOviedo UniversityOviedoSpain

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