Abstracts (first author)
Fitness consequences of infection with malaria parasites in the great tit – the medication experiment
Malaria parasites are one of the most common and widespread parasites among bird species. While severe negative effects of these haemosporidians on host fitness have been observed in naïve populations and domestics birds, the effects in wild avian populations have been generally difficult to detect, because the majority of individuals hold chronic infections. To investigate the consequences of infection with malaria parasites for the parameters of reproductive success in the small hole-nesting passerine – the great tit (Parus major), we medicated the group of females at the early stage of the nesting cycle. The study was conducted in the population with a very high prevalence rate with over 80% of females being infected with at least one parasite lineage (genera Haemoproteus and Plasmodium) at the beginning of the breeding season. During two years females were caught at the nest building stage and injected intraperitoneally either with an antimalarial drug - primaquine, or with a physiological salt. Reproductive performance of birds from the two groups was characterized with clutch initiation date, clutch size, egg size, nestling body mass 2 days post-hatching and fledgling body mass and tarsus length. Clutches laid by primaquine- and physiological salt-injected females did not differ in initiation dates, egg number and size nor there was a difference in body size of nestlings. This data suggest the lack of observable fitness effects of malaria parasites in the study population of great tits.