Alan Fecchio

Alan Fecchio

Doctor in Animal Biology

About

55
Publications
14,935
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861
Citations
Additional affiliations
February 2015 - January 2016
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (55)
Article
Full-text available
Parasites with low host specificity (e.g. infecting a large diversity of host species) are of special interest in disease ecology, as they are likely more capable of circumventing ecological or evolutionary barriers to infect new hosts than are specialist parasites. Yet for many parasites, host specificity is not fixed and can vary in response to e...
Article
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Identifying the mechanisms driving the distribution and diversity of parasitic organisms and characterizing the structure of parasite assemblages are critical to understanding host-parasite evolution, community dynamics, and disease transmission risk. Haemosporidian parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus are a diverse and cosmopolitan...
Article
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Identifying the ecological factors that shape parasite distributions remains a central goal in disease ecology. These factors include dispersal capability, environmental filters, and geographic distance. Using 520 haemosporidian parasite genetic lineages recovered from 7,534 birds sampled across tropical and temperate South America we tested 1) the...
Article
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1.Geographic variation in environmental conditions as well as host traits that promote parasite transmission may impact infection rates and community assembly of vector transmitted parasites. 2.Identifying the ecological, environmental, and historical determinants of parasite distributions and diversity is therefore necessary to understand disease...
Article
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Understanding how pathogens and parasites diversify through time and space is fundamental to predicting emerging infectious diseases. Here, we use biogeographic, coevolutionary and phylogenetic analyses to describe the origin, diversity, and distribution of avian malaria parasites in the most diverse avifauna on Earth. We first performed phylogenet...
Article
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Avian haemosporidians from the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus are vector transmitted parasites. A growing body of evidence suggests that variation in their prevalence within avian communities is correlated with a variety of avian ecological traits. Here, we examine the relationship between infection probability and diversity of haemosporidian l...
Article
Disentangling the influence of hosts and environmental factors in parasite community assembly is one of the main challenges in disease ecology. Here we used three approaches to assess the influence of host ecology and evolutionary history, as well as environmental factors on Plasmodium parasite composition within the Atlantic Forest. Using sampling...
Article
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Parasites display various degrees of host specificity, reflecting different coevolutionary histories with their hosts. Avian hosts follow multiple migration patterns representing short but also long distances. As parasites infecting migratory birds are subjected to multiple environmental and biotic changes through their flyways, migration may disru...
Article
Fibricola and Neodiplostomum are diplostomid genera with extremely similar morphology that are currently separated based on their definitive hosts, i.e., Fibricola spp. are normally found in mammals, while Neodiplostomum spp. typically parasitize birds. Prior to our study, no DNA sequence data was available for any member of Fibricola. We generated...
Article
The Diplostomidae Poirier, 1886 is a large, globally distributed family of digeneans parasitic in intestines of their definitive hosts. Diplostomum and Tylodelphys spp. are broadly distributed, commonly reported, and the most often sequenced diplostomid genera. The majority of published DNA sequences from these genera originated from larval stages...
Article
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Migration can modify interaction dynamics between parasites and their hosts with migrant hosts able to disperse parasites and impact local community transmission. Thus, studying the relationships among migratory hosts and their parasites is fundamental to elucidate how migration shapes host–parasite interactions. Avian haemosporidians are some of t...
Article
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Aim: Macroecological analyses provide valuable insights into factors that influence how parasites are distributed across space and among hosts. Amid large uncertainties that arise when generalizing from local and regional findings, hierarchical approaches applied to global datasets are required to determine whether drivers of parasite infection pat...
Article
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Crassiphialinae Sudarikov, 1960 is a large subfamily of the Diplostomidae Poirier, 1886 with a complex taxonomic history. It includes a diversity of species parasitic in the intestines of avian and mammalian definitive hosts worldwide. Posthodiplostomum Dubois, 1936 is a large and broadly distributed crassiphialine genus notorious for its associati...
Article
As presently recognized, Herpetodiplostomum is a small genus of proterodiplostomid digeneans parasitic in crocodilians. Most members of Cheloniodiplostomum, a genus of proterodiplostomids that parasitize chelonians, were originally placed within Herpetodiplostomum. The 2 genera were distinguished based on the presence/absence of papillae on the hol...
Preprint
Full-text available
Migration can modify interaction dynamics between parasites and their hosts with migrant hosts able to disperse parasites and impact local community transmission. Thus, studying the relationships among migratory hosts and their parasites is fundamental to elucidate how migration shapes host-parasite interactions. Avian haemosporidian parasites are...
Article
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Neotropical birds are mostly parasitized by immature ticks and act as reservoir hosts of tick-borne pathogens of medical and veterinary interest. Hence, determining the factors that enable ticks to encounter these highly mobile hosts and increase the potential for tick dispersal throughout migratory flyways are important for understanding tick-born...
Article
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The foraging specialization of army ant-following birds has long intrigued ecologists and provided numerous questions such as why, how and when did this foraging guild specialization arise and evolve. Many of the answers to these questions have focused on ecological interactions such as predation and competition, whereas little has been done to stu...
Article
Individuals of migratory species may be more likely to become infected by parasites because they cross different regions along their route, thereby being exposed to a wider range of parasites during their annual cycle. Conversely, migration may have a protective effect since migratory behaviour allows hosts to escape environments presenting a high...
Article
Migration has an important impact on the transmission of pathogens. Migratory birds disperse parasites through their routes and may consequently introduce them to new areas and hosts. Hence, haemosporidian parasites, which are among the most prevalent, diverse and important bird pathogens, are potentially dispersed when infecting migrant hosts. Fur...
Article
Host phylogenetic relatedness and ecological similarity are thought to contribute to parasite community assembly and infection rates. However, recent landscape level anthropogenic changes may disrupt host-parasite systems by impacting functional and phylogenetic diversity of host communities. We examined whether changes in host functional and phylo...
Article
Sphincterodiplostomum is a monotypic genus of diplostomid digeneans that parasitize fish-eating birds in the neotropics. The type species Sphincterodiplostomum musculosum has a unique, dorsal, tubular invagination in the opisthosoma with a muscular sphincter. Whereas larvae of S. musculosum are relatively commonly reported in Neotropical fish helmi...
Article
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Studies contrasting parasite prevalence and host-parasite community structure between pristine and disturbed environments will improve our understanding of how deforestation affects disease transmission and parasite extinction. To determine how infection rates of a common and diverse group of avian blood parasites (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) resp...
Article
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Determining the roles of host ecology and geography on the distribution of parasites is an important aim in disease ecology. However, this is extremely challenging for vector transmitted pathogens due to complex host–vector–parasite interactions. Here, we assess community turnover of birds, ornithophilic mosquitoes and Plasmodium parasites at diffe...
Article
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Determining the prevalence and local transmission dynamics of parasitic organisms are necessary to understand the ability of parasites to persist in host populations and disperse across regions, yet local transmission dynamics, diversity, and distribution of haemosporidian parasites remain poorly understood. We studied the prevalence, diversity, an...
Article
Human induced changes on landscape can alter the biotic and abiotic factors that influence the transmission of vector-borne parasites. To examine how infection rates of vector-transmitted parasites respond to changes on natural landscapes, we captured 330 Blue-black Grassquits (Volatinia jacarina) in Brazilian biomes and assessed the prevalence and...
Article
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Haemosporidian parasites of the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon are among the best studied parasites of Neotropical birds. Here, we describe variation in haemosporidian prevalence (i.e. the proportion of infected individuals in a sampled population) in Neotropical birds. We review correlates of haemosporidian prevalence (includin...
Article
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Ticks are one of the most well studied parasitic groups as they spread important pathogens of medical and veterinary importance worldwide. Migratory birds can play an important role in transporting ticks infected with pathogens across wide geographic regions. It is therefore important to understand which factors promote tick parasitism rates across...
Article
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Ticks are ectoparasites that feed on blood of a broad taxonomic range of terrestrial and flying vertebrates and are distributed across a wide range of environmental conditions. Here, we explore the biotic and abiotic factors on infestation probability of ticks of the genus Amblyomma and assess the degree of host specificity based on analysis of 102...
Article
The removal of ectoparasites is a common behavior found across animal taxa and is a determinant to avoid the negative effects of parasites' presence. Eventually, the elimination of ectoparasites is associated with mutualistic interactions. Cleaner birds remove ectoparasites, providing benefits to its mutualistic host by reducing parasite burden whi...
Article
Haemosporidian parasites of the genera Plasmodium, Leucocytozoon, and Haemoproteus are one of the most prevalent and widely studied groups of parasites infecting birds. Plasmodium is the most well-known haemosporidian as the avian parasite Plasmodium relictum was the original transmission model for human malaria and was also responsible for catastr...
Article
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Crassiphiala is a monotypic genus of diplostomid digeneans, and is the type-genus of the subfamily Crassiphialinae. The type-species Crassiphiala bulboglossa parasitizes kingfishers in the Nearctic and has a Neascus-type metacercaria that encysts on fish intermediate hosts, often causing black spot disease. While recent molecular phylogenetic studi...
Article
Uvulifer Yamaguti, 1934 is a genus of diplostomoidean digeneans that parasitizes kingfishers worldwide. Species have a Neascus-type metacercaria that encysts in or on fish intermediate hosts, often causing black spot disease. Only 3 prior studies published DNA sequence data for Uvulifer species with only 1 including a single named species (Uvulifer...
Article
Full-text available
Birds harbor a diverse group of haemosporidian parasites that reproduce and develop in the host blood cells, muscle tissue, and various organs, which can cause negative effects on the survival and reproduction of their avian hosts. Characterization of the diversity, distribution, host specificity, prevalence patterns, and phylogenetic relationships...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Host switching has been shown to be the main evolutionary force in shaping associations between avian hosts and their haemosporidian parasites as well as speciation of the latter. In highly diverse ecosystems, such as the Amazon basin, high host and vector diversity may support cospeciation between specific haemosporidian parasites and avian hosts....
Article
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Birds harbor an astonishing diversity of haemosporidian parasites belonging to the genera Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, and Plasmodium. Currently there are over 250 morphologically described avian haemosporidian species and 2828 unique lineages infecting virtually all avian clades and zoogeographic regions, except for Antarctica. Our report is based...
Conference Paper
Avian haemosporidians are a highly diverse group of blood parasites that includes representatives of three apicomplexan genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon. Brazilian Amazon supports world’s highest avian diversity (1300 species) and expected equally rich yet undescribed diversity of avian haemosporidians. This study is the first lar...
Article
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Avian malaria is a vector transmitted disease caused by Plasmodium and recent studies suggest that variation in its prevalence across avian hosts is correlated with a variety of ecological traits. Here we examine the relationship between prevalence and diversity of Plasmodium lineages in southeastern Amazonia and: (1) host ecological traits (nest l...
Article
Full-text available
Parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) are a diverse group of pathogens that infect birds nearly worldwide. Despite their ubiquity, the ecological and evolutionary factors that shape the diversity and distribution of these protozoan parasites among avian communities and geographic regions are poorly understo...
Article
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Aim Migrating birds transport their parasites, often over long distances, but little is known about the transfer of these parasites to resident hosts in either the wintering or breeding ranges of the migratory host populations. We investigated the haemosporidian parasite faunas of migratory and resident birds to determine connections among distant...
Article
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Avian malaria, the infection by blood parasites of the genus Plasmodium, can reduce host fitness not only through mortality, but also by impairing the expression of sexual selection traits. Although different studies highlight the association of parasitism with a decrease in host reproductive success, few studies have addressed the role of parasite...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Host life history traits have been shown to affect the prevalence of avian malaria (Haemoproteus and Plasmodium). To understand avian malaria transmission risk in highly diverse Amazonian bird communities we analyzed four of these traits: 1) nest height, 2) nest type, 3) foraging height, and 4) flocking. These traits are potentially associated with...
Article
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Plumage coloration deriving from carotenoid and melanin pigments can be a quality signal in birds, and can be under conspecific inspection in social interactions. For example, parasite load and immune system status can be inferred through plumage color intensity, and can influence the choice of sexual partners. Here, we evaluated two plumage orname...
Article
Full-text available
Birds possess the most diverse assemblage of haemosporidian parasites; including three genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon. Currently there are over 200 morphologically identified avian haemosporidian species, although true species richness is unknown due to great genetic diversity and insufficient sampling in highly diverse regions...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Birds possess the most diverse assemblage of haemosporidian parasites, represented by three genera, Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon. Currently there are over 200 morphologically identified avian haemosporidian species, although the true diversity is unknown, due to high genetic diversity and vastly insufficient in highly diverse habitat...
Article
Full-text available
The Amazon biome harbors the richest avifauna in the world. However, in the Brazilian Amazon only a single previous study has systematically evaluated wild birds for ticks. During 2012, wild birds were captured in two areas of the Brazilian Amazon forest, one located in the State of Amazonas, and another in the State of Pará. Overall, 581 wild bird...
Article
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Despite many studies on avian blood parasites, we still have a limited understanding of the mechanisms that drive patterns of haemosporidian infection among tropical birds, including effects associated with sex, age, and seasonality. Using molecular and morphological methods for blood-parasite detection, we found that juvenile White-banded Tanagers...
Article
Full-text available
The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of blood parasites in wild birds in a Cerrado area in Central Brazil. A total of 508 individuals belonging to 26 species and nine families of the order Passeriformes were captured between April 2005 and March 2006 in five different phytophysiognomic types of Cerrado at the Águas Emendadas Eco...
Article
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SUMMARY Studies on avian haemosporidia are on the rise, but we still lack a basic understanding of how ecological and evolutionary factors mold the distributions of haemosporidia among species in the same bird community. We studied the structure and organization of a local avian haemosporidian assemblage (genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) in the...
Article
Full-text available
Parasites may lead bird species to extinction, affect host temporal and spatial population dynamics, alter community structure and alter individual' social status. We evaluated blood parasite prevalence and intensity according to bird families and species, among 925 birds that were caught in 2000 and 2001, in the Atlantic Forest in the State of Min...
Article
Full-text available
Blood parasites play a fundamental role in the ecology and evolution of passerine birds because they are able to affect the fitness and survival of their hosts. The prevalence of avian malarial parasites among host species can vary from 0 to 100% but the ecological and evolutionary reasons for this variation are not clear. In this study we tested i...
Article
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Species that are introduced to novel environments can lose their native pathogens and parasites during the process of introduction. The escape from the negative effects associated with these natural enemies is commonly employed as an explanation for the success and expansion of invasive species, which is termed the enemy release hypothesis (ERH). I...
Article
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Neotropical parrots usually forage in forest canopies for nectar, flowers, leaves, fruit pulp, and seeds. As they have no all-purpose territories, these birds usually exploit vegetation mosaics in order to use plentiful resources as they become available. In this study we examine the use of a gallery forest in the southern Pantanal (Brazil) by a di...

Projects

Projects (3)
Project
The main goal of this project is to evaluate the role of migratory behavior on the transmission of haemosporidian parasites in South America and worldwide.
Project
This research theme is built around the universal goal of determining how biotic interactions influence the distributions of species and the compositions of natural communities. With unprecedented rates of habitat modification and biotic homogenization, it is imperative to understand how these interactions change in volatile environments. By integrating recently-developed and long-standing methodological approaches to model community ecology mechanisms, we primarily focus on host-parasite relationships to study biotic interactions across space and time.