Gastrointestinal parasites of arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and sibling voles (Microtus levis) in Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Abstract

The arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), an apex predator with an omnipresent distribution in the Arctic, is a potential source of intestinal parasites that may endanger people and pet animals such as dogs, thus posing a health risk. Non-invasive methods, such as coprology, are often the only option when studying wildlife parasitic fauna. However, the detection and identification of parasites are significantly enhanced when used in combination with methods of molecular biology. Using both approaches, we identified unicellular and multicellular parasites in faeces of arctic foxes and carcasses of sibling voles (Microtus levis) in Svalbard, where molecular methods are used for the first time. Six new species were detected in the arctic fox in Svalbard, Eucoleus aerophilus, Uncinaria stenocephala, Toxocara canis, Trichuris vulpis, Eimeria spp., and Enterocytozoon bieneusi, the latter never found in the arctic fox species before. In addition, only one parasite was found in the sibling vole in Svalbard, the Cryptosporidium alticolis, which has never been detected in Svalbard before.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Msc Alena Bartoňová for her kindness in preparing the map included in this study.

Funding

This study was supported by the CzechPolar2 project LM2015078 supported by Ministry of Education Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic

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Correspondence to Eva Myšková.

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The protocol was approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of the University of South Bohemia, and also by the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic (Permit Numbers MZP/2017/630/854). All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Norwegian Animal Welfare Act. The research was also registered in The Research in Svalbard Database, RiS-10852. All handling/usage with biological samples were allowed by the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice in accordance with the law of the Czech Republic (Act No. 166/1999), regulation of European Parliament (Act. No. 1069/2009), and Commission Regulation (EU) (No. 142/2011).

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Myšková, E., Brož, M., Fuglei, E. et al. Gastrointestinal parasites of arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and sibling voles (Microtus levis) in Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Parasitol Res 118, 3409–3418 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-019-06502-8

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Keywords

  • Parasites
  • Svalbard
  • Arctic fox
  • Sibling vole
  • Coprology