Establishment of exotic parasites: the origins and characteristics of an avian malaria community in an isolated island avifauna


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Knowledge of the processes favouring the establishment of exotic parasites is poor. Herein, we test the characteristics of successful exotic parasites that have co-established in the remote island archipelago of New Zealand, due to the introduction of numerous avian host species. Our results show that avian malaria parasites (AM; parasites of the genus Plasmodium) that successfully invaded are more globally generalist (both geographically widespread and with a broad taxonomic range of hosts) than AM parasites not co-introduced to New Zealand. Furthermore, the successful AM parasites are presently more prevalent in their native range than AM parasites found in the same native range but not co-introduced to New Zealand. This has resulted in an increased number and greater taxonomic diversity of AM parasites now in New Zealand.