Parasitic infections of three Mexican howler monkey groups (Alouatta palliata mexicana) living in forest fragments in Mexico

Abstract

In order to better understand how patterns of parasitism in howler monkeys are affected by forest fragmentation, we carried out a 1 year survey of gastrointestinal parasites in fecal samples from three groups of Mexican howler monkeys inhabiting different forest fragments in the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve, Mexico. The study groups were chosen because the conditions in which they lived suggested a potentially negative gradient for parasite richness and a positive gradient for levels of parasitism. We report for the first time the presence of Entamoeba coli in Alouatta palliata mexicana and of hookworms (Family Ancylostomidae) in A. palliata. A reduction in home range size and an increase in disturbance was associated with a loss of parasite richness, which in general was high. Parasite prevalence and the proportion of contaminated samples in which each parasite taxon was present was also high in general and there were no differences between groups. A factor related to the generally high levels of parasitism in our study groups could be the high humidity in the study area, because this favors the survival of parasitic free forms and increases the chances of infection. This would also account for the tendency towards higher levels of parasitism observed in the rainy season. Finally we did not find a pattern relating sex and parasitism.

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Acknowledgments

Blanca Hervier and Sira Vegas Carrillo were supported by grants from the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores of the Mexican Government and of the Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología of the Spanish Government. The Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología of the Spanish Government (Grant No. PB98-127, BS02002-03340) contributed funds for the field work. We gratefully acknowledge Don Carlos Huber, the Palacios family and the Asociación Civil Mar y Montaña of Montepio for access to their land. Finally we would like to thank Domingo Canales Espinosa for his support, Jacob Dunn for his useful comments on the manuscript, and Leticia García Megaña and Serapio López Jiménez for their support and advice. This study was conducted with the authorization of SEMARNAT, the Mexican Office for the Environment and Natural Resources and meets all Mexican animal care policies.

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Correspondence to Jurgi Cristóbal-Azkarate.

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Cristóbal-Azkarate, J., Hervier, B., Vegas-Carrillo, S. et al. Parasitic infections of three Mexican howler monkey groups (Alouatta palliata mexicana) living in forest fragments in Mexico. Primates 51, 231–239 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10329-010-0193-7

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Keywords

  • Alouatta
  • Parasitism
  • Forest fragmentation
  • Parasite richness
  • Habitat disturbance