Animal Science

Research Article

Parasites and the dynamics of wild mammal populations

R. J Irvinea1 c1

a1 Macaulay Institute, Cragiebuckler, Aberdeen, AB15 8QH, UK


The impact of parasites on domestic livestock is well known. It is also clear that parasites have the potential to reduce reproductive success and survival at the individual level in wild animal populations (often through effects on body condition). However, the degree to which these impacts can regulate populations is difficult to determine because of the logistics of conducting the necessary experimental manipulations of either hosts or parasites. In addition, the relative importance of this mechanism compared to other regulatory factors such as predation and competition for food resources has not been quantified. Studies that have investigated the impact of parasites on wild mammals are reviewed and the merits of cross-sectional sampling and experimental approaches are presented. Finally, evidence for parasite mediated population regulation in wild mammals is examined and the need to develop experimental approaches that address this mechanism and its interaction with other regulatory processes is discussed.


  • mammals;
  • parasites;
  • wildlife


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