Hummingbirds are vital members of terrestrial ecosystems, and because of their high metabolic requirements, they serve as indicators of ecosystem health. Monitoring the parasitic infections of hummingbirds is thus especially important. Haemosporidians, a widespread group of avian blood parasites, are known to infect hummingbirds, but little is known about the prevalence and diversity of these parasites in hummingbirds. The prevalence of haemosporidians in several hummingbird species was examined and we compared 4 different tissue types in detecting parasites by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Blood samples from 339 individuals of 3 different hummingbird species were tested, and 4 individuals were found positive for haemosporidian infection, a prevalence of 1.2%. Hummingbird carcasses (n = 70) from 5 different hummingbird species were also sampled to assess differences in detection success of haemosporidians in heart, kidney, liver, and pectoral muscle tissue samples. Detection success was similar among tissue types, with haemosporidian prevalence of 9.96% in heart tissue, 9.52% in kidney tissue, 10.76% in liver tissue, and 11.76% in pectoral muscle tissue. All tissue samples positive for haemosporidian infection were from the Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri). Possible reasons for low prevalence of these blood parasites could include low susceptibility to insect vectors or parasite incompatibility in these hummingbirds.
- Blood parasite
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics