Disease ecology & Ornithology


Determinants of avian malaria parasitism

The first step to understanding how biota will respond to global change is to document the diversity and biogeography of species. Despite being the most species-rich group of organisms on this planet, parasite diversity is grossly underestimated and undescribed. I designed my own Ph.D. study system to model the variation in diversity and infection rates of avian malaria parasites infecting a clade of Catharus thrushes across two ecological gradients and with host traits.

1. Starkloff, N.C., Turner, W.C., Fitzgerald, A.M., Oftedal, M.C., Martinsen, E., and Kirchman, J.J. (2021). Disentangling the effects of host relatedness and elevation on haemosporidian parasite turnover in a clade of songbirds. Ecosphere, 12(5), e03497.

2. Starkloff, N. C., Kirchman, J. J., Jones, A. W., Winger, B. M., Huang, Y. H., Pulgarín‐R, P. C., & Turner, W. C. Drivers of community turnover differ between avian hemoparasite genera along a North American latitudinal gradient. Ecology and Evolution, 10:5402-5415.

3. Pulgarín‐R, P. C., Gómez, C., Bayly, N. J., Bensch, S., FitzGerald, A. M., Starkloff, N., ... & Skeen, H. (2019). Migratory birds as vehicles for parasite dispersal? Infection by avian haemosporidians over the year and throughout the range of a long‐distance migrant. Journal of Biogeography, 46(1), 83-96.

4. Starkloff, N.C., Kirchman, J.J., Sammons, M.A., Turner, W.C. (in prep). Geographic variation in malarial parasite and MHC diversity in a clade of Catharus thrushes.

Photo credit to Bill Hubick.