Intestinal parasite communities of six sympatric lemur species at Kirindy Forest, Madagascar
- 1Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Unit, German Primate Center, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
- 2Department of Sociobiology/Anthropology, University of Göttingen, Kellnerweg 6, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
- acurrent address: Institute for Parasitology, Centre for Infection Medicine, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Buenteweg 17, 30559 Hanover, Germany
Abstract. Intestinal parasites impact host health, survival and reproductive success and therefore exert selective pressures on hosts' ecology and behavior. Thus, characterizing and comparing the parasitic fauna of different wildlife hosts sharing the same habitat can provide insights into the mechanisms underlying variation in parasitism, as well as the role of parasites as possible conservation threats. Several host traits have been proposed to generate differences in parasite diversity among different host species, including phylogeny, host body mass, host longevity, diet, and differences in ranging and social behavior. Here, we provide an overview of intestinal helminths and protozoa detected by fecal microscopy in six sympatric lemur species in Kirindy Forest, western Madagascar. The described patterns indicate that host phylogeny and diet may play an important role in shaping intestinal parasite assemblages in this system, as the closely related, omnivorous cheirogaleids showed the strongest overlap in parasite communities. No indication was found for an effect of body mass or longevity on parasite species richness. Regarding the effect of sociality, the two group-living lemur species, Propithecus verreauxi and Eulemur rufifrons, harbored directly transmitted parasites at higher prevalence than solitary foragers, but not at higher diversity. Effects of season and sex on parasite prevalence confirm the results of previous studies, with higher prevalence in the energetically demanding dry season and a male bias in parasitism. We highlight the opportunities of exploring the parasitic fauna of wildlife from a community ecology and evolutionary perspective, and identify prospects for future research on lemur parasitism.