Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Major

Biology, Ecology

Date of Defense

5-30-2008

Graduate Advisor

Robert E. Ricklefs, Ph.D.

Committee

Parker, Patricia G.

Marquis, Robert J.

Abstract

We investigated determinants of local and regional species richness and community composition of avian malaria parasites (Haemoproteus and Plasmodium) in the Lesser Antilles. Chapter 1 addresses the local parasite richness and community structure, or lack thereof, on Barbados. We found only two parasite lineages on this island, one of which was recovered from only 2 birds, which stands in stark contrast to the much higher diversity on other islands. In addition, we investigated what factors may explain the absence of avian malaria in southeastern Barbados, and found this area to be drier, warmer, and supporting less vegetation. Chapter 2 addresses parasite diversity, primarily beta diversity, in the Lesser Antilles. In this chapter, we investigated the role of host history and compound communities in structuring local ensembles. We found that host genetic distance does not correlate with ensemble dissimilarity but that more phylogeographically structured host species exhibit more unique parasite ensembles compared to the compound community than do hosts that are not phylogeographically structured, suggesting that host history does influence parasite ensembles.

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