Avian haemosporidian blood parasites (agents of malaria) infect bird species globally and these parasites have a long co-evolutionary history with their bird hosts. During my PhD, I investigated bird-haemosporidian interactions in both tropical and temperate bird species to understand the drivers of these host parasite associations, in collaboration with Dr. Pavel Munclinger.
These projects have shown that:
1. natural colonisation of geographically younger regions lead to escape from haemosporidian parasite pressures in both tropical (New Guinean) and temperate (the Canary Islands) bird communities,
2. parasites can follow the hosts, but the magnitude of parasite migration depends on the strength of geological barriers,
3. the influence of environmental factors on haemosporidian associations differ between bird species in the same community, and
4. host species experience different parasite pressures in different forest strata.
Currently. I am involved in a project investigating the drivers of specialisation between avian hosts and haemosporidian parasites in two sky island populations in Cameroon.