Parasitology

Research Article

Seasonal and biogeographical patterns of gastrointestinal parasites in large carnivores: wolves in a coastal archipelago

HEATHER M. BRYANa1a2a3 c1, CHRIS T. DARIMONTa2a4, JANET E. HILLa5, PAUL C. PAQUETa2a6, R. C. ANDREW THOMPSONa7, BRENT WAGNERa5 and JUDIT E. G. SMITSa1a3

a1 Department of Veterinary Pathology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Dr., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B4, Canada

a2 Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Box 86, Denny Island, British Columbia V0T 1B0, Canada

a3 Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada

a4 Environmental Studies Department, 405 ISB, University of California, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, California 95064, USA

a5 Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Dr., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5B4, Canada

a6 Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada

a7 World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia

SUMMARY

Parasites are increasingly recognized for their profound influences on individual, population and ecosystem health. We provide the first report of gastrointestinal parasites in gray wolves from the central and north coasts of British Columbia, Canada. Across 60 000 km2, wolf feces were collected from 34 packs in 2005–2008. At a smaller spatial scale (3300 km2), 8 packs were sampled in spring and autumn. Parasite eggs, larvae, and cysts were identified using standard flotation techniques and morphology. A subset of samples was analysed by PCR and sequencing to identify tapeworm eggs (n=9) and Giardia cysts (n=14). We detected ≥14 parasite taxa in 1558 fecal samples. Sarcocystis sporocysts occurred most frequently in feces (43·7%), followed by taeniid eggs (23·9%), Diphyllobothrium eggs (9·1%), Giardia cysts (6·8%), Toxocara canis eggs (2·1%), and Cryptosporidium oocysts (1·7%). Other parasites occurred in ≤1% of feces. Genetic analyses revealed Echinococcus canadensis strains G8 and G10, Taenia ovis krabbei, Diphyllobothrium nehonkaiense, and Giardia duodenalis assemblages A and B. Parasite prevalence differed between seasons and island/mainland sites. Patterns in parasite prevalence reflect seasonal and spatial resource use by wolves and wolf-salmon associations. These data provide a unique, extensive and solid baseline for monitoring parasite community structure in relation to environmental change.

(Received July 14 2011)

(Revised October 07 2011)

(Revised November 14 2011)

(Accepted November 15 2011)

(Online publication February 06 2012)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Department of Ecosystem and Public Health, University of Calgary, 3280 Hospital Drive NW, Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada. Tel: +403 210 7869. Fax: +403 210 9740. E-mail: hmbryan@ucalgary.ca

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