, Volume 167, Issue 3, pp 635–646 | Cite as

Population density and phenotypic attributes influence the level of nematode parasitism in roe deer

  • Guillaume Body
  • Hubert Ferté
  • Jean-Michel Gaillard
  • Daniel Delorme
  • François Klein
  • Emmanuelle Gilot-Fromont
Population ecology - Original Paper


The impact of parasites on population dynamics is well documented, but less is known on how host population density affects parasite spread. This relationship is difficult to assess because of confounding effects of social structure, population density, and environmental conditions that lead to biased among-population comparisons. Here, we analyzed the infestation by two groups of nematodes (gastro-intestinal (GI) strongyles and Trichuris) in the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) population of Trois Fontaines (France) between 1997 and 2007. During this period, we experimentally manipulated population density through changes in removals. Using measures collected on 297 individuals, we quantified the impact of density on parasite spread after taking into account possible influences of date, age, sex, body mass, and weather conditions. The prevalence and abundance of eggs of both parasites in females were positively related to roe deer density, except Trichuris in adult females. We also found a negative relationship between parasitism and body mass, and strong age and sex-dependent patterns of parasitism. Prime-age adults were less often parasitized and had lower fecal egg counts than fawns or old individuals, and males were more heavily and more often infected than females. Trichuris parasites were not affected by weather, whereas GI strongyles were less present after dry and hot summers. In the range of observed densities, the observed effect of density likely involves a variation of the exposure rate, as opposed to variation in host susceptibility.


Capreolus capreolus Density dependence Gastro-intestinal strongyles Trichuris Ungulates 



We are grateful to Guillaume Gayet, Sophie Rossi, Sonia Saïd and Anne Viallefont for helpful discussions. The authors would like to thank the ONCFS technical staff (Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage) of Trois-Fontaines and Marie-Eve Terrier for their help in providing samples. The authors would also like to thank Jérôme Depaquit and Monique Boutry for their technical help in fecal egg examinations. Financial support for this study was provided by ONCFS.

Supplementary material

442_2011_2018_MOESM1_ESM.doc (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 35 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guillaume Body
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hubert Ferté
    • 3
  • Jean-Michel Gaillard
    • 1
  • Daniel Delorme
    • 4
  • François Klein
    • 4
  • Emmanuelle Gilot-Fromont
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Université de Lyon, Université Lyon 1, UMR5558 Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie EvolutiveVilleurbanne CedexFrance
  2. 2.Department of BiologyConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.JE 2533-USC ANSES « VECPAR » UFR de PharmacieUniversité de Reims Champagne-ArdenneReimsFrance
  4. 4.Centre National d’Etude et de Recherche Appliquées sur les Cervidés-SangliersOffice National de la Chasse et de la Faune SauvageBar-le-DucFrance
  5. 5.VetAgro Sup, Campus Vétérinaire de Lyon, Santé Publique VétérinaireUniversité de LyonMarcy l’EtoileFrance

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