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Effects of anthropogenic and demographic factors on patterns of parasitism in African small mammal communities

  • JOHANNA S. SALZER (a1) (a2) (a3), DARIN S. CARROLL (a2) (a3), AMANDA JO WILLIAMS-NEWKIRK (a1) (a2) (a4), STEFANIE LANG (a2), JULIAN KERBIS PETERHANS (a5) (a6), INNOCENT B. RWEGO (a2) (a7) (a8), SANDRA OCKERS (a7) and THOMAS R. GILLESPIE (a1) (a2) (a7)...

Habitat disturbance often results in alterations in community structure of small mammals. Additionally, the parasites harboured by these small mammals may be impacted by environmental changes or indirectly affected by changes in available hosts. To improve our understanding of this interplay, we examined the patterns of parasitism in small mammal communities from a variety of habitats in forested Uganda. Small mammals were collected from areas experiencing variable habitat disturbance, host density and species richness. The analysis focused on 3 most abundant rodent species, Lophuromys aquilus, Praomys jacksoni and Hylomyscus stella, and a diverse group of parasites they harbour. The impact of various habitat and host community factors on parasite prevalence was examined using linear regression and Spearman's rank-order correlation. We further investigated the parasite communities associated with each individual using correspondence analysis. We determined that, parasite prevalence and richness may be occasionally influenced by community and habitat factors, but taxonomy is a driving force in influencing the parasite community harboured by an individual host. Ultimately, applying general principles across a broad range of disturbance levels and diverse host communities needs to be approached with caution in complex communities.

Corresponding author
* Corresponding author. Program in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution, Emory University, 1462 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; Department of Environmental Sciences, Emory University, 400 Dowman Drive, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA; and Department of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA. E-mail:
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