Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 20 (2023) 122–132.


Open access.


Using samples spanning 10-degrees of latitude in Alaska, we provide the first comparative assessment of avian haemosporidia distribution of Arctic Alaska with subarctic host populations for four species of grouse and three species of ptarmigan (Galliformes). We found a high overall prevalence for at least one haemospordian genus (88%; N = 351/400), with spruce grouse (Canachites canadensis) showing the highest prevalence (100%; N = 54/ 54). Haemoproteus and Plasmodium lineages were only observed within grouse, while Leucocytozoon species were found within both grouse and ptarmigan. Further, different Leucocytozoon lineages were obtained from blood and tissue samples from the same individual, potentially due to the differential timing and duration of blood and tissue stages. Using different primer sets, we were able to identify different Leucocytozoon lineages within 55% (N = 44/80) of sequenced individuals, thereby detecting coinfections that may have otherwise gone undetected. The commonly used Haemoproteus/Plasmodium primers amplified Leucocytozoon for 90% (N = 103/115) of the products sequenced, highlighting the potential value of alternate primers to identify intra-genus coinfections and the importance of obtaining sequence information rather than relying solely on PCR amplification to assess parasite diversity. Overall, this dataset provides baseline information on parasite lineage distributions to assess the range expansion associated with climate change into Arctic regions and underscores methodological considerations for future studies.