Galapagos Bobolink Project

Oh the things that happen in a dentist chair. While at the dentists office reading this story about our grassland work in Vermont, Patty Parker, an expert in disease ecology in the Galapagos Islands, was inspired to follow a hunch she had cooked up: 1) Bobolinks are the only songbird that stop annually on Galapagos; 2) newly introduced mosquitoes could bite Bobolinks, ingest blood parasites and then bite native birds, thus spreading the parasites; 3) the Perlut Lab might have Bobolink blood with which we could try to match the parasites found on Galapagos (which we did). This line of thinking led the Perlut Lab to make a deep inquiry into disease ecology, with a number of resulting publications, including a field expedition to the Galapagos Islands to find and catch Bobolinks. This project has blossomed and now includes more genetic and migratory work with other collaborators, including Roz Renfrew and Adrienne Kovach…. and a number of publications (see below) I returned to Galapagos for the 2021 fall migration…found and caught 6 more Bobolinks (on a farm that I had not discovered in 2015) and am actively processing what I learned from these individuals.

Renfrew, R.B., N.G. Perlut, L.M. Maxwell, M. Cadman, D.H. Kim, G.V. Clucas, and A. Kovach. In press. Resolving population origins for a grassland songbird exhibiting population structure. Biodiversity and Conservation.

Perlut, N.G., Parker, P.G.,Renfrew, R.B., and M. Jaramillo. 2018. Haemosporidian parasite community in migrating bobolinks on the Galapagos Islands. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. 7:204-206.

Perlut, N.G. and R.B. Renfrew. 2016. Bobolink autumn migration stopover on Galapagos. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 128:935-938.

Levin, I.I., R.X. Baumann, D.H. Kim, N.G. Perlut,R.B. Renfrew, P.G. Parker. 2016. Local parasite lineage sharing in temperate grassland birds provides clues about potential origins of Galapagos avian Plasmodium. Ecology and Evolution 6:716-726 (journal cover).

Levin, I.I., Zwiers, P., Cruz, M.B., Deem, S., Geest, E., Higashiguchi, J.M., Iezhova, T.A., Jimenez-Uzcategui, G., Kim, D.H., Morton, J., Perlut, N.G., Renfrew, R.B., Sari, E.H.R., Valkiunas, G., Wiedenfeld, D., and Parker, P.G. 2013. Multiple lineages of avian Plasmodium in the Galapagos Islands and evidence for arrival via migratory birds. Conservation Biology 27:1366-1377.