One of my interests is to examine the effects of parasites on wild animals.
An essential first step in this process is to identify the parasites associated with the host. This can lead to unexpected revelations about the geographic distribution of a parasite. For example, in an earlier study we found that wood ducks (Aix sponsa) trapped in South Carolina are infected with Haemoproteus greineri; a protozoan parasite of duck blood cells. Prior to our study, H. greineri had been reported in only a few species of waterfowl from the northern parts of Labrador and the prairie provinces of Canada. The parasite had not been observed in wood ducks and had not been reported in any duck species in the southern part of the Atlantic Flyway. To characterize the geographic distribution of H. greineri in wood ducks, we examined blood from ducks trapped at several sites from northeast Canada to southeast USA. We found H. greineri -infected wood ducks at all of these sites indicating that the parasite is common in this bird throughout much of the Atlantic Flyway.
We recently completed studies on the impact of blood parasites and nest parasites on the reproductive success of the the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) and the Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis).
Several people worked with me on the wood duck project. They include Ellis Greiner from the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida; Jim Thul, a former graduate student at the University of Florida; Nancy Maxwell, a former GSU graduate student; John Robinette, Russ Webb and Leo Barrett of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Savannah Coastal Refuges.
Pung, O.J., N. Maxwell, E. Greiner, J. Robinette, and J.E. Thul. 1997. Haemoproteus greineri in wood ducks from the Atlantic Flyway. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 33: 355-358.
Mataxas. K.M. and O.J. Pung. 1999. Effect of blood parasites and hematophagous ectoparasites on Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) reproductive success. The Oriole. 64: 41-46.
Pung, O.J., L.D. Carlile, J. Whitlock, S.P. Vives, L.A. Durden, and E. Spadgenske. 2000. Survey and host fitness effects of red-cockaded woodpecker blood parasites and nest cavity arthropods. Journal of Parasitology. 86: 506-510.
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