Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in Emu - Austral Ornithology (2022)



Copyright © 2022 BirdLife Australia; published by Taylor & Francis. Used by permission.


Haemosporidian parasites of birds are geographically widespread, have been detected in a phylogenetically diverse array of hosts, and have been the focus of extensive research due to both their impacts on birds and their similarity to vector-borne diseases of humans. Advances in molecular diagnostic tools have created a greater awareness of the genetic diversity of haemosporidian infections. Yet in spite of their more or less global distribution, comparatively little is known about the haemosporidians affecting birds in Australia. We screened blood from 889 birds (23 species) for haemosporidian blood parasite infections during the 2019 breeding season at Brookfield Conservation Park, South Australia. We examined the genetic (lineage) diversity of haemosporidian infections in this behaviorally and ecologically diverse host assemblage and examined the congruence between parasite and host phylogenies. We identified seven Haemoproteus mitochondrial cytochrome b lineages, five of which were novel. Four birds had simultaneous co-infections by two Haemoproteus lineages each. The Haemoproteus lineages clustered at the host family level. Two Plasmodium lineages were also identified, each of which had been previously detected in different avian host species in Australasia. We did not detect any Leucocytozoon infections in our sample. This study supplies critical baseline data on host–parasite associations in a poorly-surveyed geographic region.