|Haemoproteus infection across a Galliform hybrid zone|
|Allison M. Roth1, Carl N. Keiser1, Judson B. Williams2,3, Jennifer M. Gee4. 1University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, United States; 2Duke University, Raleigh, NC, United States; 3Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, United States; 4University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA, United States
Increasingly, hybridization has become recognized as a common and important stage in species formation. The result is gene exchange across distinct populations, which can permanently alter the pace and direction of evolutionary change. Parasites of hybridizing species are one agent that can shift the evolutionary fate of hybrid zones. We explored whether species, rainfall, and their interaction predicted the probability and intensity of Haemoproteus lophortyx infection across four study sites spanning the California quail (Callipepla californica) and Gambel’s quail (C. gambelii) hybrid zone. Although we found no effect of rainfall on H. lophortyx infection, we found differences in the probability and intensity of H. lophortyx infection across species. The probability of infection was higher for Gambel’s quail than for California quail and hybrids, but once infected, Gambel’s quail had lower infection intensities than California quail. Hybrids showed infection intensities intermediate to that of parental species. Our results suggest H. lophortyx may influence hybrid zone demographics, potentially contributing to the erosion of species barriers between California and Gambel’s quail.