New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2016) 40(1): 72- 79

Avian malaria in introduced, native and endemic New Zealand bird species in a mixed ecosystem

Research Article
Danielle C. Sijbranda 1*
Jim Campbell 2
Brett D. Gartrell 1
Laryssa Howe 1
  1. Wildbase, Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand
  2. Department of Conservation, 34–36 Taupo Quay, Whanganui 4500, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Avian malaria, caused by Plasmodium spp., has been reported as a cause of morbidity and mortality in New Zealand bird populations. The prevalence of Plasmodium lineages in the Waimarino Forest was evaluated in NZ robins (Petroica longipes), other passerines, blue ducks (Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos), and brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli), using nested PCR. The presence of P. sp. lineage LINN1, P. (Huffia) elongatum lineage GRW06 and P. (Novyella) sp. lineage SYAT05 was demonstrated; Plasmodium (Haemamoeba) relictum lineage GRW4 was not found. The highest prevalence of infection was found in introduced European species (80.5%), followed by native (19%) and endemic species (3.5%), with a significant difference between these groups. All detected Plasmodium lineages have previously been identified in New Zealand and introduced species have been suggested as an important reservoir of infection. The results of this study will aid New Zealand conservation managers with disease risk management during bird translocations from the Waimarino forest.