Intestinal parasites of the Arctic fox in relation to the abundance and distribution of intermediate hosts.
ABSTRACT The intestinal parasite community of Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) on the Svalbard archipelago in the High Arctic was investigated in relation to the abundance and distribution of intermediate hosts. Five species of cestodes (Echinococcus multilocularis, Taenia crassiceps, Taenia polyacantha, Taenia krabbei and Diphyllobothrium sp.), ascaridoid nematodes and one unidentified acanthocephalan species were found. The cestodes E. multilocularis, T. crassiceps and T. polyacantha all showed a decreasing prevalence in the fox population with increasing distance from their spatially restricted intermediate host population of sibling voles (Microtus levis). In addition, the prevalence of E. multilocularis in a sample from the vole population was directly related to the local vole abundance. The cestode T. krabbei uses reindeer as intermediate host, and its prevalence in female foxes was positively related to the density of reindeer (Rangifer tarandus platyrhyncus). Finally, the prevalence of the ascaridoid nematodes also decreased with increasing distance from the vole population, a finding that is consistent with the idea that voles are involved in transmission, most likely as paratenic hosts. The prevalence of the remaining species (Diphyllobothrium sp. and an unidentified acanthocephalan) was very low. We conclude that the distribution and abundance of intermediate host structure the gastrointestinal parasite community of the Arctic fox on the Svalbard archipelago.