Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Biological Sciences

Content Description

1 online resource (x, 141 pages) : color illustrations, color maps.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Wendy C Turner

Committee Members

Jeremy J Kirchman, Jason Weckstein, Jan Conn


Avian malaria, Catharus thrush, community ecology, Disease ecology, Haemosporidia, latitudinal gradient, Catharus, Thrushes, Immunogenetics

Subject Categories

Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


The persistence of an organism in a particular habitat is mediated by a complex interplay of abiotic and biotic interactions. These interactions become especially complicated for a vector-transmitted parasite as its persistence relies on its ability to colonize both ectothermic and endothermic host organisms. Host factors, rather than environmental factors, have been highlighted as key predictors of the diversity and prevalence of avian haemosporidians (malaria parasites and relatives) globally. The range of a parasite is limited by its host specificity as well as the community of hosts present. In addition, as haemosporidian infections typically have negative fitness consequences on hosts, highly variable host immune genes may limit a parasite’s ability to colonize certain individuals and species. Lastly, diversity and infection rates are known to vary with environmental gradients such as latitude, elevation and proximity to water source.