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

Cities as parasitic amplifiers? Malaria prevalence and diversity in great tits along an urbanization gradient

10.24072/pcjournal.405 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article no. e38.

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Urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon that modifies the environment. By affecting the reservoirs of pathogens and the body and immune conditions of hosts, urbanization alters the epidemiological dynamics and diversity of diseases. Cities could act as areas of pathogen dilution or amplification, depending on whether urban features have positive or negative effects on vectors and hosts. In this study, we focused on a host species and investigated the prevalence and diversity of avian malaria parasites (Plasmodium/Haemoproteus sp. and Leucocytozoon sp.) in great tits (Parus major) living across an urbanization gradient. In general, we observed high prevalence in adult birds (from 95% to 100%), yet lower prevalence in fledglings (from 0% to 38%). We found a slight tendency for increased Plasmodium sp. prevalence with increasing urbanization in adults. Urban nestlings had higher Plasmodium sp. infection rates than non-urban nestlings. We found evidence of higher diversity of parasites in the most natural urban park; however, parasite diversity was similar across other urbanization levels (e.g. from a little artificialized park to a highly anthropized industrial area). Parasite lineages were not habitat specific. Only one Plasmodium sp. lineage (YWT4) was associated with urban areas and some rare lineages (e.g., AFR065) were present only in a zoo area, perhaps because of the presence of African birds. This study suggests that urbanization can lead to a parasite amplification effect and can favor different avian malaria lineages.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.405
Type: Research article
Caizergues, Aude E. 1, 2; Robira, Benjamin 3; Perrier, Charles 4; Jeanneau, Mélanie 1; Berthomieu, Arnaud 1; Perret, Samuel 1; Gandon, Sylvain 1; Charmantier, Anne 1

1 CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France
2 Department of Biology, University of Toronto Mississauga; Mississauga, ON, Canada
3 Animal Ecology Unit, Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele all’Adige, TN, Italy
4 UMR CBGP, INRAE, CIRAD, IRD, Institut Agro, Université Montpellier, Montpellier, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
     author = {Caizergues, Aude E. and Robira, Benjamin and Perrier, Charles and Jeanneau, M\'elanie and Berthomieu, Arnaud and Perret, Samuel and Gandon, Sylvain and Charmantier, Anne},
     title = {Cities as parasitic amplifiers? {Malaria} prevalence and diversity in great tits along an urbanization gradient},
     journal = {Peer Community Journal},
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Caizergues, Aude E.; Robira, Benjamin; Perrier, Charles; Jeanneau, Mélanie; Berthomieu, Arnaud; Perret, Samuel; Gandon, Sylvain; Charmantier, Anne. Cities as parasitic amplifiers? Malaria prevalence and diversity in great tits along an urbanization gradient. Peer Community Journal, Volume 4 (2024), article  no. e38. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.405.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.ecology.100587

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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