Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Outlaw, Diana C.

Committee Member

Counterman, Brian A.

Committee Member

Varela-Stokes, Andrea S.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Biological Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Biological Sciences


Haemosporidians, including the avian malaria parasites, are a diverse group of blood parasites that infect terrestrial vertebrates worldwide. There is variability in parasite prevalence (presence) and parasitemia (infection intensity); infections range from virtually inconsequential to lethal. Prevalence and parasitemia of avian malaria in the Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) were determined (n=81). The genera Plasmodium and Parahaemoproteus were detected and quantified from bird blood using microscopy, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and quantitative PCR (qPCR). Thirteen lineages of malaria parasites were found. Sequence data from the parasite’s mitochondrial cytochrome b gene indicate that prevalence is 69.1% (Plasmodium-89.3%; Parahaemoprotues-7.1%; double infection-3.6%). Parasitemia was low in all infected birds. Seasonally, parasite prevalence varied significantly. Avian malaria prevalence and parasitemia were not associated with host sex, age, or health. Observations of infection in this naturally infected bird provide details on host susceptibility that are applicable to the understanding of malaria parasites in other avian hosts.



Tufted Titmouse||parasitemia||prevalence||haemosporidians