Parasitology

Research Article

Temporal and spatial variation in prevalence of the parasite Syngamus trachea in a metapopulation of house sparrows (Passer domesticus)

HÅKON HOLANDa1 c1, HENRIK JENSENa1, JARLE TUFTOa2, BERNT-ERIK SÆTHERa1 and THOR HARALD RINGSBYa1

a1 Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

a2 Department of Mathematical Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, 7491 Trondheim, Norway

SUMMARY

When investigating parasite–host dynamics in wild populations, a fundamental parameter to investigate is prevalence. This quantifies the percentage of individuals infected in the population. Investigating how prevalence changes over time and space can reveal interesting aspects in the parasite–host relationship in natural populations. We investigated the dynamic between a common avian parasite (Syngamus trachea) in a host metapopulation of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) on the coast of Helgeland in northern Norway. We found that parasite prevalence varied in both time and space. In addition, the parasite prevalence was found to be different between demographic groups in the local populations. Our results reveal just how complex the dynamic between a host and its parasite may become in a fragmented landscape. Although temperature may be an important factor, the specific mechanisms causing this complexity are not fully understood, but need to be further examined to understand how parasite–host interactions may affect the ecological and evolutionary dynamics and viability of host populations.

(Received January 23 2013)

(Revised March 22 2013)

(Accepted April 12 2013)

(Online publication June 21 2013)

Key words

  • Parasite;
  • Syngamus trachea ;
  • house sparrow;
  • prevalence;
  • metapopulation

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author. Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics, 7491 Trondheim, Norway. E-mail: hakon.holand@bio.ntnu.no

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