Environmental heterogeneity largely dictates the spatial distributions of parasites and therefore the susceptibility to infection of host populations. We surveyed avian malaria infections in Rufous-collared sparrows (Zonotrichia capensis) across replicated altitudinal and latitudinal transects along the western slope of the Peruvian Andes to assess geographic patterns of prevalence. We found malaria infection prevalence peaked at midelevations along all 3 altitudinal transects ( ≈ 2,733 m), with highest overall prevalence observed in the northern transect. We observed low levels of malarial parasite diversity, with 94% of infected birds carrying a single Haemoproteus (subgenus Parahaemoproteus) strain. The remaining infected birds harbored either a single alternate Haemoproteus or 1 of 2 Plasmodium strains. Our data suggest that temperature and precipitation are the primary drivers of the spatial patterns in avian malaria prevalence along the western slope of the Andes.

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