The determinants of the geographic distribution of avian hematozoa are poorly understood. Sampling parasites from one avian host species across a wide geographic range is an accepted approach to separate the potential influence of host species distribution from geographic effects not directly related to host species biology. We used polymerase chain reaction to screen samples for hematozoan infection from 490 house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) collected at 8 sites spanning continental North America. To explore geographic patterns of parasite lineage distributions, we sequenced a portion of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of Plasmodium species infecting 77 house finches. We identified 5 distinct Plasmodium haplotypes representing 3 lineages that likely represent 3 species. One lineage was common at all sites where we detected Plasmodium species. The second lineage contained 3 haplotypes that showed phylogeographic structuring on a continent-wide scale, with 1 haplotype common in eastern North America and 2 common in western North America. The third divergent lineage was recovered from 1 individual host. Considered together, the partial phylogeographic structuring of Plasmodium cytochrome b lineages over the range of the house finch suggests that parasite lineage distribution is not solely dependent on host species distribution, and other factors such as arthropod vector competence and distribution may be important.

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