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Once a common sight around London, house sparrow (Passer domesticus) populations have been declining for decades; they’re down 71% since 1995. Now, researchers believe they know why: a mosquito-borne disease called avian malaria.
Scientists collected 3 years of data from 11 sparrow colonies around London where the birds breed. They counted raw numbers of birds each year, and collected blood and excrement from a number of individuals.
Colonies - Birds - % - Sparrows - Malaria
Seven out of the 11 colonies were losing birds, and roughly 74% of the sparrows carried avian malaria (Plasmodium relictum). That’s the highest rate of infection with this parasite seen in any wild bird population in Northern Europe, the researchers report today in Royal Society Open Science. Avian malaria may be...
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