Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
University of California
Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Avian malaria in Western USA

Diversity and co-infection of avian malaria within the western shoreline states (funding from California Mosquito Research Foundation - PI –Cornel, National Geographic Society- PI- Sehgal)

Avian malaria and other parasites represent an interesting area of research because of high endemicity vs worldwide distributions and host and vector generality and specificity of different species and strains. All of these phenomena are controlled by multiple environmental parameters that affect the distributions and survival of the hosts and vectors. Work to examine, from the bird and vector perspectives, is currently ongoing investigating the prevalence in time and space of avian haemoparasites in riverine song birds in FresnoCounty. We are also examining the endemicity of avian parasites (in collaboration with Ravinder Sehgal- Department of Biology, San Francisco State University) along the tree line ecosystem in Arctic regions ofAlaska. If we find evidence of active avian parasite transmission in northernAlaska it would serve as a disease model to investigate effects warming climate change inAlaska where temperature and rainfall changes appear to have been very dramatic in the past half a decade.  We have found some evidence of avian malaria transmission in some parts ofAlaska (Loiseau et al. 2012) but work must still be done to find the culprit vector.


Loiseau, C., Harrigan, R.J., Cornel, A. J., Guers, S. L., Dodge, M., Marzee, T., Carlson, J. S., Seppi, B., Sehgal, R. N. M. First evidence and predictions of avian Plasmodium transmission in Alaska bird populations. PLos ONE. 7(9): e44729. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044729. 2012.


Wing Beat article.


Jenny Carlson a few years ago had the wonderful opportunity to sample birds and mosquitoes for avian parasites on the remoteIslandofSocorro. She found parasites in mosquitoes, which suggests that parasites are present and that active transmission occurs there (Carlson et al 2011). 


Carlson, J., Martinez, J., Cornel, A. J., Loiseau, C., Sehgal, R. N. M. Implications of Plasmodium parasite infected mosquitoes on an insular avifauna: the case of Socorro Island, Mexico. J. Vector Ecology. 36: 213-220. 2011.

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