Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Ecology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Kristin Brzeski

Advisor 2

Jared Wolfe

Committee Member 1

David Flaspohler

Committee Member 2

Gordon Paterson


Avian haemosporidian parasites, known as avian malaria (phylum Apicomplexa) can diminish an individual bird’s fitness by causing parasitemia, anemia, and reduced survival. Climate change is predicted to increase the spread of malarial parasites into more northerly latitudes where little is known about community compositions of these parasites. I assessed the prevalence and diversity of haemosporidian parasites in the first-ever community-level sampling of malaria in songbirds across the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In total, 179 blood samples were collected from birds representing 17 species, at five locations in the Upper Peninsula, including a mature forest, an early successional forest, and urban study areas. To assess the presence of malaria within birds, I used a nested PCR protocol targeting the parasite cytochrome b. The molecular results revealed 48 unique malarial lineages and a total positive infection rate of 54 %. The Plasmodium PADOM11 haplotype was the most common among all birds.