Avian blood parasites that cause avian malaria and related diseases are found around the entire world. Recently published in Global Ecology and Biogeography (PDF available above), and building on my earlier research that documented avian parasite diversity patterns, my recent article shows that the phylogenetic diversities of avian parasite communities show predictable patterns across the globe. In short, the more distinct a parasite community is compared to those in surrounding regions, the more diverse that community appears to be. Areas where parasites evolve and diversify quickly are sharing fewer of their parasites with surrounding regions. What is driving this pattern is currently unclear, but it could be that the timing of avian evolutionary radiations play a role. Many regions that harbour high diversities of parasites have undergone recent explosions in avian diversification, and it could be that these parasites have also quickly evolved but have not yet begun to spread around the world.
Global Phylogenetic Diversity of Avian Malaria Parasites
Global Ecology and Biogeography
Results of regression models analysing drivers of parasite phylogenetic diversity in communities around the world. Latitude has no apparent effect, and the pattern seems to be driven by a community’s uniqueness (Bdiv) compared to surrounding regions