Associations of Forest Type, Parasitism and Body Condition of Two European Passerines, Fringilla coelebs and Sylvia atricapilla

Luedtke, Bruntje; Moser, Isabelle; Santiago-Alarcon, Diego; Fischer, Markus; Kalko, Elisabeth K. V.; Schaefer, H. Martin; Suarez-Rubio, Marcela; Tschapka, Marco; Renner, Swen C. (2013). Associations of Forest Type, Parasitism and Body Condition of Two European Passerines, Fringilla coelebs and Sylvia atricapilla. PLoS ONE, 8(12), e81395. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0081395

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Human-induced forest modification can alter parasite-host interactions and might change the persistence of host populations. We captured individuals of two widespread European passerines (Fringilla coelebs and Sylvia atricapilla) in southwestern Germany to disentangle the associations of forest types and parasitism by haemosporidian parasites on the body condition of birds. We compared parasite prevalence and parasite intensity, fluctuating asymmetries, leukocyte numbers, and the heterophil to lymphocyte ratio (H/L-ratio) among individuals from beech, mixed-deciduous and spruce forest stands. Based on the biology of bird species, we expected to find fewer infected individuals in beech or mixed-deciduous than in spruce forest stands. We found the highest parasite prevalence and intensity in beech forests for F. coelebs. Although, we found the highest prevalence in spruce forests for S. atricapilla, the highest intensity was detected in beech forests, partially supporting our hypothesis. Other body condition or health status metrics, such as the heterophil to lymphocyte ratio (H/L-ratio), revealed only slight differences between bird populations inhabiting the three different forest types, with the highest values in spruce for F. coelebs and in mixed-deciduous forests for S. atricapilla. A comparison of parasitized versus non-parasitized individuals suggests that parasite infection increased the immune response of a bird, which was detectable as high H/L-ratio. Higher infections with blood parasites for S. atricapilla in spruce forest indicate that this forest type might be a less suitable habitat than beech and mixed-deciduous forests, whereas beech forests seem to be a suboptimal habitat regarding parasitism for F. coelebs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Fischer, Markus

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

21 Feb 2014 10:59

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2016 01:46

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0081395

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.40901

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/40901

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