Ecology and conservation biology of avian malaria

  title={Ecology and conservation biology of avian malaria},
  author={Dennis A. LaPointe and Carter T. Atkinson and Michael D Samuel},
  journal={Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences},
Avian malaria is a worldwide mosquito‐borne disease caused by Plasmodium parasites. These parasites occur in many avian species but primarily affect passerine birds that have not evolved with the parasite. Host pathogenicity, fitness, and population impacts are poorly understood. In contrast to continental species, introduced avian malaria poses a substantial threat to naive birds on Hawaii, the Galapagos, and other archipelagoes. In Hawaii, transmission is maintained by susceptible native… 

Management of avian malaria in populations of high conservation concern

This Primer first provides contextual background for the avian malaria system including the life cycle, geographic distribution and spread, and focuses on recent advances in understandingAvian malaria ecology, including how avian Malaria can lead to large ecosystem changes and variation in host immune responses to Plasmodium infection.

Ecology and Evolution of Avian Malaria: Implications of Land Use Changes and Climate Change on Disease Dynamics

  • F. Ishtiaq
  • Biology
    Journal of the Indian Institute of Science
  • 2021
The importance of avian malaria research in understanding the influence of climate change, land use and deforestation on disease dynamics, and how this helps to understand the ecology and evolution of the disease both from human and wildlife perspectives is highlighted.

Avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds: infection and population impacts across species and elevations

This work found species-specific patterns of malaria prevalence, transmission, and mortality in low-, mid-, and high-elevation forests on the island of Hawai‘i based on four longitudinal studies of 3–7 years in length.

Variation in immunity and health in response to introduced avian malaria in an endemic Hawaiian songbird

Describing malaria infection rates across Hawaii Island, to examine the role of innate immunity in malaria resilience, and to determine the effects of resilience and chronic infection on Amakihi health are among the first results to describe variation in immunity and health according to avian malaria selection and infection in Hawaiian honeycreepers.

Mitigating Future Avian Malaria Threats to Hawaiian Forest Birds from Climate Change

The results showed that mosquito control strategies offer potential long-term benefits to high elevation Hawaiian honeycreepers, and concluded that mitigating malaria transmission at high elevations should be a primary conservation goal.

A Transmission Model for the Ecology of an Avian Blood Parasite in a Temperate Ecosystem

A mathematical model is developed to explore and identify the ecological factors that most influence transmission of the common avian parasite, Leucocytozoonfringillinarum (Apicomplexa), and found that relapse of adult birds and young of the year birds were crucial for parasite persistence across multiple seasons.

Is Avian Malaria Playing a Role in Native Bird Declines in New Zealand? Testing Hypotheses along an Elevational Gradient

Results from blood samples collected in Nelson Lakes National Park support the hypothesis that avian malaria is playing a role in ongoing declines of native New Zealand birds and add weight to that hypothesis.

Avian malaria in New Zealand

The current state of knowledge, discusses the possible infection and disease outcomes, the implications for host behaviour and reproduction, methods of diagnosis of infection, and the possible vectors for transmission of the disease in New Zealand.



The dynamics, transmission, and population impacts of avian malaria in native Hawaiian birds: a modeling approach

The results from the model suggest that disease is likely a key factor in causing population decline or restricting the distribution of many susceptible Hawaiian species and preventing the recovery of other vulnerable species.

Climate change increases the risk of malaria in birds

Following the variation in parasite prevalence in more than 3000 bird species over seven decades, it is shown that the infection rate by Plasmodium is strongly associated with temperature anomalies and has been augmented with accelerating tendency during the last 20 years.

Avian malaria Plasmodium relictum in native Hawaiian forest birds: epizootiology and demographic impacts on 'apapane Himatione sanguinea.

It was found that malaria transmission was seasonal in this mid-elevation forest; transmission peaked during fall and during some years produced epizootic mortality events, demonstrating the key role this disease has played in the decline and extinction of Hawaiian forest birds.

Avian malaria in Europe: An emerging infectious disease?

The field data support the view that an outbreak of avian malaria among the endemic bird population of Europe is unlikely to happen under the current circumstances, and frequent screening of the endemic and migratory bird populations should be employed to prevent an outbreak such as happened in Hawaii.

Wildlife disease and conservation in Hawaii: Pathogenicity of avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) in experimentally infected Iiwi (Vestiaria coccinea)

These findings support previous studies documenting high susceptibility of native Hawaiian forest birds to avian malaria and support the view that this disease continues to threaten remaining high elevation populations of endangered native birds.


Avian malaria probably did not reach epizootic proportions on Hawaii until after 1920, but since that time it has had a negative impact on the population dynamics of the native forest birds and is today a major limiting factor, restricting both abundance and distribution of these species on the island.

Avian Malaria Parasites Share Congeneric Mosquito Vectors

The association of both Culex species with most Plasmodium clades, and the presence of a single parasite lineage in 3 mosquito species representing 2 genera, suggests that avian Plas modium species are not tightly coevolved with vector species.

Nonspecific patterns of vector, host and avian malaria parasite associations in a central African rainforest

This study suggests extensive invertebrate host shifts in mosquito–parasite interactions and that avian Plasmodium species are most likely not tightly coevolved with vector species.

Relationship between avian malaria distribution and an exotic invasive mosquito in New Zealand

Sampling of wild non‐native birds at Orana Park, Christchurch, where a disease outbreak occurred recently in a captive native bird population, suggested that such outbreaks may spill‐back into local wild bird populations, and indicates that they may act as reservoirs of infection to native species.

The prevalence of avian Plasmodium is higher in undisturbed tropical forests of Cameroon

The results illustrate how characterizing land-cover differences, and hence changes, may be a prerequisite to understanding and predicting patterns of parasite infections in natural populations of rain-forest birds.