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New paper! "Specialist enemies, generalist weapons and the potential spread of exotic pathogens

Great new paper by Mr. Nicholas Clark on malaria parasites in the Indian myna! The abstract and link are below.

Clark, N. J., Olsson-Pons, S., Ishtiaq, F., and Clegg, S. M. (2015) Specialist enemies, generalist weapons and the potential spread of exotic pathogens: malaria parasites in a highly invasive bird. International Journal for Parasitology. doi: (online early) (link).


Pathogens can influence the success of invaders. The Enemy Release Hypothesis predicts invaders encounter reduced pathogen abundance and diversity, while the Novel Weapons Hypothesis predicts invaders carry novel pathogens that spill over to competitors. We tested these hypotheses using avian malaria (haemosporidian) infections in the invasive myna (Acridotheres tristis), which was introduced to southeastern Australia from India and was secondarily expanded to the eastern Australian coast. Mynas and native Australian birds were screened in the secondary introduction range for haemosporidians (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus spp.) and results were combined with published data from the myna’s primary introduction and native ranges. We compared malaria prevalence and diversity across myna populations to test for Enemy Release and used phylogeographic analyses to test for exotic strains acting as Novel Weapons. Introduced mynas carried significantly lower parasite diversity than native mynas and significantly lower Haemoproteus prevalence than native Australian birds. Despite commonly infecting native species that directly co-occur with mynas, Haemoproteus spp. were only recorded in introduced mynas in the primary introduction range and were apparently lost during secondary expansion. In contrast, Plasmodium infections were common in all ranges and prevalence was significantly higher in both introduced and native mynas than in native Australian birds. Introduced mynas carried several exotic Plasmodium lineages that were shared with native mynas, some of which also infected native Australian birds and two of which are highly invasive in other bioregions. Our results suggest that introduced mynas may benefit through escape from Haemoproteus spp. while acting as important reservoirs for Plasmodium spp., some of which are known exotic lineages.

Link to uncorrected proofs below:

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