Avian malaria is rising in NZ, threatening vulnerable native bird species. A modelling study from an NZ-Canadian team used data from 18 South Island sites to reveal that human-driven changes to landscape may lead to more avian malaria infections in the studied non-native bird species like blackbirds and thrushes, which are known to be hosts for malaria parasites. This potentially ups the risk of local infection for other species like native birds. The authors also predict warmer and wetter places will have a higher risk of avian malaria spread, and say landscape restoration is vital to mitigate the impact of infectious diseases on wild ecosystems.
Journal/conference: PLOS ONE
Link to research (DOI): 10.1371/journal.pone.0265568
Organisation/s: University of Otago, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, Canada
Funder: Funding: AF has been supported by the University of Otago doctoral scholarship grants and CNN was
supported by a Strategic Science Investment Funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment awarded to Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. The funder provided support in the form of salaries for authors AF, RP and CNN, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the
manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.
Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist