Avian malaria in Hawaiian forest birds: infection and population impacts across species and elevations

Wildlife diseases can present significant threats to ecological systems and biological diversity, as well as domestic animal and human health. However, determining the dynamics of wildlife diseases and understanding the impact on host populations is a significant challenge. In Hawai‘i, there is ample circumstantial evidence that introduced avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum) has played an important role in the decline and extinction of many native forest birds. However, few studies have attempted to estimate disease transmission and mortality, survival, and individual species impacts in this distinctive ecosystem. We combined multi-state capture-recapture (longitudinal) models with cumulative age-prevalence (crosssectional) models to evaluate these patterns in Apapane, Hawai‘i Amakihi, and Iiwi in low-, mid-, and high-elevation forests on the island of Hawai‘i based on four longitudinal studies of 3–7 years in length.

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