Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-10-2020


Avian haemosporidians are protist parasites that are distributed worldwide. We investigated these parasites in a tropical South Pacific archipelago to answer two questions: 1) Which community characteristics influence haemosporidian diversity; 2) Does host specificity vary across islands? To answer these questions we sequenced a mitochondrial gene and created linear models to establish relationships between select variables and diversity. In addition, we calculated host breadth of each lineage and constructed models to infer predictors of diversity. The percent of infected individuals on each island was correlated with island area. Haemosporidian phylogenetic diversity on a given island was associated with the proportion of community infected, maximum elevation, and area; parasite richness was related to richness of the sampled bird community. Host-specificity of Parahaemoproteus was different across islands, which was best predicted by elevation. Studying diversity and host specificity across isolated, insular systems will continue to inform our theories on parasite-host interactions.




avian malaria, New Georgia Group, phylogenetic diversity, host breadth, coevolution

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Michael Andersen

Second Committee Member

Dr. Christopher Witt

Third Committee Member

Dr. Bruce Hofkin