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Diversity, distribution and exchange of blood parasites meeting at an avian moving contact zone

Authors

  • JULIEN REULLIER,

    1. Laboratoire d’Ecologie Animale, UMR MA 105 Paysages et biodiversité, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Angers, Campus de Belle-Beille, 2 bd Lavoisier, F-49045 Angers, France,
    2. Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building. SE-22362 Lund, Swede
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  • JAVIER PÉREZ-TRIS,

    1. Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building. SE-22362 Lund, Swede
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  • STAFFAN BENSCH,

    1. Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building. SE-22362 Lund, Swede
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  • JEAN SECONDI

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratoire d’Ecologie Animale, UMR MA 105 Paysages et biodiversité, Faculté des Sciences, Université d’Angers, Campus de Belle-Beille, 2 bd Lavoisier, F-49045 Angers, France,
    2. Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building. SE-22362 Lund, Swede
      Jean Secondi, Fax: 0033/241735352; E-mail: jean.secondi@univ-angers.fr
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  • All authors contributed equally to this work.

Jean Secondi, Fax: 0033/241735352; E-mail: jean.secondi@univ-angers.fr

Abstract

Research on contact zones has paid relatively little attention to host–parasite interactions, although these situations have important but different implications depending on whether one considers the host or the parasite's perspective. We investigated both the role of a host contact zone in parasite expansion and whether parasites could influence contact zone dynamics. We studied the diversity and the patterns of parasite exchange (genera Haemoproteus and Plasmodium) infecting two parapatric sibling passerines meeting at a moving contact zone in western Europe. We amplified and sequenced a fragment of the parasite cytochrome b gene. The expanding host harboured more diverse parasites, which might indicate a superior ability to face a diverse parasite fauna than the receding host. Prevalence was very high in both hosts, due to the frequent occurrence of two sister Haemoproteus lineages. Despite the recent movement of the contact zone, these two parasites fitted almost perfectly to the geographic range of their main host species. Yet, we found several cases of cross-species infection in sympatric areas and evidences of asymmetrical spreading of parasites from the expanding host towards the receding host. Altogether, our results suggest that the host contact zone mainly acts as a barrier to parasite expansion even if recurrent host shifts are observed. Besides, they also support the idea that parasite-mediated competition might contribute to the displacement of hosts’ contact zones, thereby emphasizing the role of parasitism on the population dynamics of sympatric species.

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