U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service



Marina D. Rodriguez https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7802-8623

Date of this Version



Rodriguez et al. Parasites Vectors (2021) 14:145



This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,


Background: The prevalence of avian haemosporidian parasites and the factors influencing infection in the Colorado Rocky Mountains are largely unknown. With climate change expected to promote the expansion of vector and avian blood parasite distributions, baseline knowledge and continued monitoring of the prevalence and diversity of these parasites is needed.

Methods: Using an occupancy modeling framework, we conducted a survey of haemosporidian parasite species infecting an avian community in the Colorado Rocky Mountains in order to estimate the prevalence and diversity of blood parasites and to investigate species-level and individual-level characteristics that may influence infection.

Results: We estimated the prevalence and diversity of avian Haemosporidia across 24 bird species, detecting 39 parasite haplotypes. We found that open-cup nesters have higher Haemoproteus prevalence than cavity or ground nesters. Additionally, we found that male Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-crowned Sparrows, and Wilson’s Warblers have higher Haemoproteus prevalence compared to other host species. Plasmodium prevalence was relatively low (5%), consistent with the idea that competent vectors may be rare at high altitudes.

Conclusions: Our study presents baseline knowledge of haemosporidian parasite presence, prevalence, and diversity among avian species in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and adds to our knowledge of host–parasite relationships of blood parasites and their avian hosts.[Figure not available: see fulltext.]