Section: Infections
Topic: Biology of interactions, Ecology, Evolution

Spring reproductive success influences autumnal malarial load in a passerine bird

10.24072/pcjournal.378 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e18.

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Although avian haemosporidian parasites are widely used as model organisms to study fundamental questions in evolutionary and behavorial ecology of host-parasite interactions, some of their basic characteristics, such as seasonal variations in within-host density, are still mostly unknown. In addition, their interplay with host reproductive success in the wild seems to depend on the interaction of many factors, starting with host and parasite species and the temporal scale under study. Here, we monitored the parasitemia of two haemosporidian parasites – Plasmodium relictum (lineage SGS1) and P. homonucleophilum (lineage SW2) – in two wild populations of great tits (Parus major) in Switzerland over three years, to characterize their dynamics. We also collected data on birds’ reproductive output – laying date, clutch size, fledging success – to determine whether they were associated with parasitemia before (winter), during (spring) and after (autumn) breeding season. Parasitemia of both species dramatically increased in spring, in a way that was correlated to parasitemia in winter. Parasitemia before and during breeding season did not explain reproductive success. However, the birds which fledged the more chicks had higher parasitemia in autumn, which was not associated with their parasitemia in previous spring. Our results tend to indicate that high haemosporidian parasite loads do not impair reproduction in great tits, but high resource allocation into reproduction can leave birds less able to maintain low parasitemia over the following months.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.378
Type: Research article
Keywords: avian malaria, annual variations, relapses, recrudescence, recurrences, parasitemia, life history traits, bird
Pigeault, Romain 1, 2; Cozzarolo, Camille-Sophie 1, 3, 4; Wassef, Jérôme 1; Gremion, Jérémy 1; Bastardot, Marc 1; Glaizot, Olivier 1, 5; Christe, Philippe 1

1 Department of Ecology and Evolution, Université de Lausanne, Biophore, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
2 Laboratoire EBI, Equipe EES, UMR CNRS 7267, 86000 Poitiers, France
3 Biogéosciences, UMR 6282 CNRS, université de Bourgogne, 6 boulevard Gabriel, 21000 Dijon, France
4 Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolution (iomE), Anthropology, Johannes Gutenberg University, 55128 Mainz, Germany
5 Muséum cantonal des sciences naturelles - Département de zoologie, Palais de Rumine, Place de la Riponne 6, 1005 Lausanne, Switzerland
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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     title = {Spring reproductive success influences autumnal malarial load in a passerine bird},
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Pigeault, Romain; Cozzarolo, Camille-Sophie; Wassef, Jérôme; Gremion, Jérémy; Bastardot, Marc; Glaizot, Olivier; Christe, Philippe. Spring reproductive success influences autumnal malarial load in a passerine bird. Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article  no. e18. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.378.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.infections.100194

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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