Host-parasite associations in coyotes (Canis latrans)
LE3 .A278 2018
Bachelor of Science
Fat and other nutrient reserves can have profound influences on an individual’s fitness. An organism’s condition is defined as its surplus of fat relative to body size. The kidney-femur fat index (KFFI) is often used for measuring condition in mammals. Variables that can influence condition include age, sex, food availability, and parasites. Parasites impose costs on hosts, negatively impacting a host’s condition. I quantified condition in coyotes (Canis latrans), a carnivore widely distributed across North America. Coyotes are vulnerable to a variety of endoparasites, but whether this translates into measurable reductions in condition is unknown. I quantified parasite intensity (number of parasites/host) by collecting endoparasites from the lungs, tracheae, and small intestines of 70 coyotes from Nova Scotia. Parasite intensity for each individual species of parasite was not significantly associated with host condition. However, trachea nodule (Oslerus osleri) intensity was positively correlated with condition, which is contrary to expectation. Few studies have observed this relationship. Intensity of O. osleri infections was greater is males consistent with other studies finding male-biased parasitism. Tapeworm (Taenia spp.) intensity was greater in hosts infected with both Taenia spp. and Crenosoma vulpis than in individuals infected with Taenia alone, which could be due to a number of factors, including weakening of host by an initial infection. Finally, hosts infected with O. osleri were more likely to also be infected with C. vulpis than expected by chance. These results suggest numerous host-parasite associations in this system
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