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Mammalian gastrointestinal parasites in rainforest remnants of Anamalai Hills, Western Ghats, India

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation is postulated to be a major factor influencing infectious disease dynamics in wildlife populations and may also be responsible, at least in part, for the recent spurt in the emergence, or re-emergence, of infectious diseases in humans. The mechanism behind these relationships are poorly understood due to the lack of insights into the interacting local factors and insufficient baseline data in ecological parasitology of wildlife. Here, we studied the gastrointestinal parasites of nonhuman mammalian hosts living in 10 rainforest patches of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve, India. We examined 349 faecal samples of 17 mammalian species and successfully identified 24 gastrointestinal parasite taxa including 1 protozoan, 2 trematode, 3 cestode and 18 nematode taxa. Twenty of these parasites are known parasites of humans. We also found that as much as 73% of all infected samples were infected by multiple parasites. In addition, the smallest and most fragmented forest patches recorded the highest parasite richness; the pattern across fragments, however, seemed to be less straightforward, suggesting potential interplay of local factors.

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