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Ecol Lett. 2019 Jun;22(6):987-998. doi: 10.1111/ele.13263. Epub 2019 Mar 25.

Deeply conserved susceptibility in a multi-host, multi-parasite system.

Barrow LN1,2, McNew SM1,2,3, Mitchell N2, Galen SC1,4,5,6, Lutz HL3,7,8, Skeen H7,9, Valqui T10, Weckstein JD5,6,7, Witt CC1,2.

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Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 87131, USA.
Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, 87131, USA.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA.
Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics & Richard Gilder Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, 10024, USA.
Department of Ornithology, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, 19103, USA.
Department of Biodiversity, Earth, and Environmental Sciences, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, 19103, USA.
Integrative Research Center, The Field Museum, Chicago, IL, 60605, USA.
Department of Surgery, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.
Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.
Centro de Ornitología y Biodiversidad (CORBIDI), Lima, Perú.


Variation in susceptibility is ubiquitous in multi-host, multi-parasite assemblages, and can have profound implications for ecology and evolution in these systems. The extent to which susceptibility to parasites is phylogenetically conserved among hosts can be revealed by analysing diverse regional communities. We screened for haemosporidian parasites in 3983 birds representing 40 families and 523 species, spanning ~ 4500 m elevation in the tropical Andes. To quantify the influence of host phylogeny on infection status, we applied Bayesian phylogenetic multilevel models that included a suite of environmental, spatial, temporal, life history and ecological predictors. We found evidence of deeply conserved susceptibility across the avian tree; host phylogeny explained substantial variation in infection status, and results were robust to phylogenetic uncertainty. Our study suggests that susceptibility is governed, in part, by conserved, latent aspects of anti-parasite defence. This demonstrates the importance of deep phylogeny for understanding present-day ecological interactions.


Haemoproteus ; Leucocytozoon ; Plasmodium ; Andes; Apicomplexa; Haemosporida; Peru; avian malaria; comparative methods; phylogenetic signal

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