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The drivers of avian haemosporidian prevalence in tropical lowland forest of New Guinea in three dimensions
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  • Celia Vinagre-Izquierdo,
  • Kasun Bodawatta,
  • Krystof Chmel,
  • Justinn Renelies-Hamilton,
  • Luda Paul,
  • Nick Bos,
  • Pavel Munclinger,
  • Michael Poulsen,
  • Knud Andreas Jønsson
Celia Vinagre-Izquierdo
Natural History Museum of Denmark
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Kasun Bodawatta
Natural History Museum of Denmark
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Krystof Chmel
University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice
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Justinn Renelies-Hamilton
University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science
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Luda Paul
New Guinea Binatang Research Center
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Nick Bos
University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science
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Pavel Munclinger
Charles University in Prague
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Michael Poulsen
University of Copenhagen Faculty of Science
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Knud Andreas Jønsson
Natural History Museum of Denmark
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Abstract

Haemosporidians are among the most common parasites in birds and often impact negatively host fitness and consequently can affect entire host populations. It is therefore important to determine what factors influence parasite prevalence, particularly if they are caused by anthropogenic activities. Here we explore the effect of temperature, forest cover, and proximity to anthropogenic disturbance on haemosporidian prevalence and host-parasite networks on a horizontal spatial scale, comparing four fragmented forest patches and five localities within a continuous forest in Papua New Guinea. We find that the majority of Haemosporidian infections are caused by the genus Haemoproteus and that avian-haemosporidian networks are more specialized in continuous forests. At the community level, only forest cover was negatively associated with Haemoproteus infections, while abiotic and anthropogenic effects on parasite prevalence differed between bird species. We further tested if prevalence and host-parasite networks differed between the canopy and the understorey (vertical stratification) and found significantly higher Haemoproteus prevalence levels in the canopy, and the opposite trend for Plasmodium prevalence. This implies that birds experience distinct parasite pressures depending on the stratum they inhabit, likely driven by differences in vector communities. These three-dimensional analyses of avian-haemosporidians at horizontal and vertical scales provides a deeper understanding of the environmental factors driving haemosporidian prevalence in tropical lowland forests of New Guinea. Collectively, our results suggest that the effect of abiotic variables on haemosporidian infections are species specific, and that factors influencing community-level infections are primarily driven by host community composition.

Peer review status:UNDER REVIEW

22 Jun 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
23 Jun 2021Assigned to Editor
23 Jun 2021Submission Checks Completed
29 Jun 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned