Low prevalence of blood parasites in Cerrado birds, Central Brazil

Alan Fecchio, Miguel Ângelo Marini, Érika Martins Braga


The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of blood parasites in wild birds in a Cerrado area in Central Brazil. A total of 508 individuals belonging to 26 species and nine families of the order Passeriformes were captured between April 2005 and March 2006 in five different phytophysiognomic types of Cerrado at the Águas Emendadas Ecological Station, DF, Brazil. Analyses revealed that only 35 individuals (6.9% prevalence) were infected by parasites from the genera Haemoproteus or Plasmodium. Only three families, Emberizidae (9.9%), Tyrannidae (6.8%) and Furnariidae (2.2%), were infected. Six bird species were identified as hosts to Plasmodium or Haemoproteus for the first time. No significant difference for prevalence of parasites was found between the dry and rainy seasons (7.2% and 6.3%, respectively), and prevalence during the reproductive period (7.1%) was similar to that of the non-reproductive period (6.7%). Migratory bird species (3.4%) did not differ from resident bird species (8.3%). The low haemoparasite prevalence found for the Cerrado in the present study is one of the lowest registered for wild bird communities in the Neotropics and around the world. The results confirm patterns observed in previous studies in Brazil and the Neotropics.

Key words: Avian malaria, Haemoproteus, Neotropical region, passerine birds, Plasmodium.

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ISSN: 2236-3777 - Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox

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