Analysis of Blood Parasites in the American Crow

by Nathan Reddick
Faculty advisor: Dr. Douglas Robinson and Dr. Richard Lampe

American Crows (Corvus brachyrhyncos) are habitat generalists that live in close association with humans.  As habitats become increasingly urbanized, those animals living in close association with humans could suffer negative consequences based on what the urban societies have done to the environment.  These animals could also suffer negative consequences based on the additional animals (in this case, parasites) that live in their environment as well.  We examined the blood of nestling American Crows to determine A:  the types of blood parasites in these birds and B:  whether there were differences in the prevalence of parasites between suburban and rural habitats.  Two blood parasites were found in nestlings of both habitats: Plasmodium and Haemoproteus.  Initial analyses indicate there is no difference in the prevalence of these parasites between the suburban and rural habitats. The relatively low difference in blood parasites in nestlings can indicate that the acquisition of blood parasites is a product of random events rather than a habitat-specific issue.