Animal movement and parasite distribution
Yet, the few studies on this topic have shown pronounced spatial variation in parasite prevalence also within host populations. This could potentially be important as it could shape dispersal strategies; local areas with high parasite prevalence should be avoided during natal dispersal and might constitute an important decision rule for establishment, at least for early settlers. Moreover, host dispersal might be an important factor influencing the distribution of parasites.
The aim of this project is to study (1) the influence of host movements on disease transmission and host-parasite interaction and (2) how the risk of being infected shape dispersal strategies.
Distribution of parasites among blue tits
Our preliminary results show that movements within populations of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus) at the Revinge area indeed affect the distribution of an avian blood parasite (Haemoproteus majoris).
During six years (1997-2002) of population estimates of prevalence among blue tits, we found a negative relation between prevalence and the proportion of new birds (previously unringed) in the population (Stjernman et al unpubl.).This indicates that areas surrounding our main study site at Revinge, may contain blue tits far less infected and that dispersal has a strong effect on the distribution of parasites and the risk of getting infected.