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A multiyear survey of helminths from wild saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator) tamarins

  • Institute for Conservation Research San Diego Zoo Global


The establishment of baseline data on parasites from wild primates is essential to understand how changes in habitat or climatic disturbances will impact parasite-host relationships. In nature, multiparasitic infections of primates usually fluctuate temporally and seasonally, implying that the acquisition of reliable data must occur over time. Individual parasite infection data from two wild populations of New World primates, the saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator) tamarin, were collected over 3 years to establish baseline levels of helminth prevalence and parasite species richness (PSR). Secondarily, we explored variation in parasite prevalence across age and sex classes, test nonrandom associations of parasite co-occurrence, and assess the relationship between group size and PSR. From 288 fecal samples across 105 individuals (71 saddleback and 34 emperor tamarins), 10 parasite taxa were identified by light microscopy following centrifugation and ethyl-acetate sedimentation. Of these taxa, none were host-specific, Dicrocoeliidae and Cestoda prevalences differed between host species, Prosthenorchis and Strongylida were the most prevalent. Host age was positively associated with Prosthenorchis ova and filariform larva, but negatively with cestode and the Rhabditoidea ova. We detected no differences between expected and observed levels of co-infection, nor between group size and parasite species richness over 30 group-years. Logistic models of individual infection status did not identify a sex bias; however, age and species predicted the presence of four and three parasite taxa, respectively, with saddleback tamarins exhibiting higher PSR. Now that we have reliable baseline data for future monitoring of these populations, next steps involve the molecular characterization of these parasites, and exploration of linkages with health parameters.
Am J Primatol. 2019;e23063. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Received: 3 May 2019
Revised: 10 September 2019
Accepted: 20 September 2019
DOI: 10.1002/ajp.23063
A multiyear survey of helminths from wild saddleback
(Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator)
Gideon A. Erkenswick
Mrinalini Watsa
Alfonso S. Gozalo
Shay Dudaie
Lindsey Bailey
Kudakwashe S. Muranda
Alaa Kuziez
Patricia G. Parker
Department of Biology, University of
MissouriSt. Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri
Field Projects International, Saint Louis,
Comparative Medicine Branch, National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda,
WildCare Institute, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint
Louis, Missouri
Gideon A. Erkenswick, Department of Biology,
University of MissouriSt. Louis, One
University Blvd., Saint Louis, MO 63121.
Funding information
Sigma Xi; American Society of Mammalogists;
Division of Intramural Research, National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases;
Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center,
University of MissouriSt. Louis; IdeaWild;
University of MissouriSt. Louis, Grant/Award
Number: Trans World Airlines Scholarship;
Field Projects International
The establishment of baseline data on parasites from wild primates is essential to
understand how changes in habitat or climatic disturbances will impact parasitehost
relationships. In nature, multiparasitic infections of primates usually fluctuate temporally
and seasonally, implying that the acquisition of reliable data must occur over time.
Individual parasite infection data from two wild populations of New World primates, the
saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli)andemperor(Saguinus imperator) tamarin, were collected
over 3 years to establish baseline levels of helminth prevalence and parasite species
richness (PSR). Secondarily, we explored variation in parasite prevalence across age and
sex classes, test nonrandom associations of parasite cooccurrence, and assess the
relationship between group size and PSR. From 288 fecal samples across 105 individuals
(71 saddleback and 34 emperor tamarins), 10 parasite taxa were identified by light
microscopy following centrifugation and ethylacetate sedimentation. Of these taxa, none
were hostspecific, Dicrocoeliidae and Cestoda prevalences differed between host species,
Prosthenorchis and Strongylida were the most prevalent. Host age was positively associated
with Prosthenorchis ova and filariform larva, but negatively with cestode and the
Rhabditoidea ova. We detected no differences between expected and observed levels of
coinfection, nor between group size and parasite species richness over 30 groupyears.
Logistic models of individual infection status did not identify a sex bias; however, age and
future monitoring of these populations, next steps involve the molecular characterization
of these parasites, and exploration of linkages with health parameters.
baseline data, Callitrichidae, freeranging, Neotropics, parasite infections
Parasitism has a fundamental role to play in the persistence of animal
populations in nature, and the richness of parasite communities may
serve as effective populationand ecosystemlevel measures of health
(Hudson, 1998; Hudson, Dobson, & Lafferty, 2006). In particular, helminth
parasites, which can be detected through noninvasive sampling, may be
ideally suited for longterm health monitoring of a primate community
(Gillespie, 2006; Howells, Pruetz, & Gillespie, 2011). They are relatively
easy to evaluate from fecal samples collected from habituated primate
groups, but can sometimes be acquired in the absence of habituation by
scat detection dogs or by searching beneath known feeding or resting
locations (Arandjelovic et al., 2015; Orkin, Yang, Yang, Yu, & Jiang, 2016).
Several longterm research programs have successfully used temporal
parasite data to examine ecological perturbations of threatened primate
populations (Bakuza & Nkwengulila, 2009; Chapman, Gillespie, & Speirs,
2005; Gillespie & Chapman, 2008; Gillespie, Chapman, & Greiner, 2005).
In contrast, in the absence of temporal data, comparative studies
between isolated and moreurbanprimatepopulationsareeffectiveat
evaluating impacts of increased contact with humans (Salzer, Deutsch,
Raño, Kuhlenschmidt, & Gillespie, 2010; Wenz, Heymann, Petney, &
Taraschewski, 2009). Despite the utility of such studies, parts of the
world with the highest primate diversity, such as the Neotropics, remain
inadequately sampled for naturally occurring helminth parasites (re-
viewed in Hopkins & Nunn, 2007, but also see SolórzanoGarcía & de
León, 2018), and reliable baseline data that are required to detect
changes over time and space are not commonly available.
Since the range of factors that can explain parasitehost patterns
in nature is large (Clough, Heistermann, & Kappeler, 2010; Gillespie,
Barelli, & Heistermann, 2013; Gillespie et al., 2010; MacIntosh,
Hernandez, & Huffman, 2010; MacIntosh et al., 2012; Monteiro,
Dietz, Raboy, et al., 2007; Muehlenbein & Watts, 2010; Nunn,
Brezine, Jolles, & Ezenwa, 2014; Telfer et al., 2008) and often
dependent on the environment and time (Clough et al., 2010;
Gillespie et al., 2010), it may be best approached through longitudinal
monitoring of individuals in host communities (CluttonBrock &
Sheldon, 2010; Erkenswick, Watsa, Gozalo, Dmytryk, & Parker, 2017;
Stuart et al., 1998). A primary challenge has been that research on
wild primates usually requires habituation to observers, which often
constrains sample sizes, making it difficult to adequately analyze
many of these factors (Williamson & Feistner, 2011). Thus far, a
multitude of studies have offered snapshots of parasite prevalences,
focused on just one or two parasites of known interest, the sampling
of a single primate host, or on data from health inspections, or
necropsies, after animal extraction from the wild. Collectively they
have created a broad foundation of primate parasite data (see Nunn
& Altizer, 2005 for a detailed compilation; SolórzanoGarcía & de
León, 2018).
The next challenge will be to determine baseline levels of
prevalence and species richness, which will enable more detailed
studies that incorporate host demography and development, mode of
transmission, and change over time at the level of a population. As an
example, for almost a halfcentury it has been well known that New
World monkeys are broadly infected by Plasmodium brasilianum,a
quartan malarial parasite, that may in fact be the same as the human
parasite Plasmodium malariae (Collins & Jeffery, 2007; Lalremruata
et al., 2015). However, only last year do we have the first evidence
that it may persist in a highly aggregated manner among a small
number of chronically infected nonhuman primate hosts (Erkenswick,
Watsa, Pacheco, Escalante, & Parker, 2017). In addition, longterm
studies that incorporate more than one primate host are essential to
examine several longstanding hypotheses of how sociality influences
parasite prevalence, intensity, and diversity (Altizer et al., 2003;
Freeland, 1976, 1979), as are longterm studies of multiple sympatric
species to examine speciesspecificity of infection dynamics.
The Callitrichidae (comprised of tamarins and marmosets) are
small arboreal primates that are widely distributed throughout the
forests of South America (Sussman & Kinzey, 1984). They are
frequently found in sympatry with other New World monkeys and in
some cases have proven relatively resilient and flexible in the face of
encroachment by human populations (Gordo, Calleia, Vasconcelos,
Leite, & Ferrari, 2013; G. C. Leite, Duarte, & Young, 2011; Soto
Calderón, AcevedoGarcés, ÁlvarezCardona, HernándezCastro, &
GarcíaMontoya, 2016). Part of their ecological flexibility may be due
to their generalist diets that include fruits, insects, tree exudates, and
fungi (Sussman & Kinzey, 1984), a characteristic that also could
expose them to a wide array of parasites that are dispersed by
intermediate arthropod hosts. Studies of endoparasites of callitri-
chids have documented overlap with other primate families including
the Ateledae, Cebidae, and Aotidae (Michaud, Tantalean, Ique,
Montoya, & Gozalo, 2003; Phillips, Haas, Grafton, & Yrivarren,
2004; Tantalean, Gozalo, & Montoya, 1990; Wolff, 1990). Consider-
ing the approximately 61 species and subspecies of Callitrichidae
(Rylands and Mittermeier, 2009), there have been only a handful of
comprehensive evaluations of helminth parasites from freeranging
populations (Monteiro, Dietz, Beck, et al., 2007; Müller, 2007; Wenz
et al., 2009), and only two species in which parasites have been
monitored routinely over timethe golden lion and goldenheaded
lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia and L. chrysomelas, respectively;
Monteiro, Dietz, Raboy, et al., 2007).
The principle aim of this study was to characterize the helminth
assemblages from two populations of sympatric, individually identifi-
able, freeranging callitrichidsthe saddleback tamarin (Leontocebus
weddelli, formerly Saguinus fuscicollis weddelli; Buckner, Lynch Alfaro,
Rylands, & Alfaro, 2015; Matauschek, Roos, & Heymann, 2011) and
emperor tamarin (Saguinus imperator)from fecal samples collected
noninvasively and via an annual markrecapture program. By
sampling these hosts across 3 years, we estimate the prevalence of
helminth parasites, species richness, and the extent of parasite
overlap between the two host species. We also summarize changes in
infection status from the subset of animals that were screened for
helminths in two or more consecutive years. In doing so, we establish
baseline data for future comparative studies following perturbations
such as changing weather patterns due to climate change, habitat
loss/modification, or greater human encroachment.
Secondarily, as sampling came from an individually identifiable
population, we analyzed how parasite prevalence varied by host
demographic variables. As a result of greater social burdens placed
on females to compete for dominant breeding opportunities, we
predicted that an agesex interaction would influence prevalence
and parasite species richness. We also analyzed infection data for
nonrandom associations between all pairwise parasite combinations,
on the basis that blood parasite associations were detected
previously in the same populations (Erkenswick, Watsa, Gozalo,
et al., 2017). Lastly, prior studies have detected a potential pattern
between primate group size and parasite species richness (Cote &
Poulin, 1995; Nunn, Altizer, Jones, & Sechrest, 2003; Rifkin, Nunn, &
Garamszegi, 2012; Vitone, Altizer, & Nunn, 2004), but this associa-
tion has not been considered within the Callitrichidae, at small
taxonomic scales. We tested the hypothesis that large groups will
harbor higher parasite species richness.
All sampling protocols adhered to guidelines outlined by the
American Society of Mammalogists (Sikes & Gannon, 2011) and
complied with the American Society of Primatologists Principles for
the Ethical Treatment of NonHuman Primates. Permissions for this
study were obtained from the Institutional Animal Care and Use
Committee at the University of MissouriSt. Louis and the Directo-
rate of Forest and Wildlife Management (DGFFS) of Perú annually.
The DGFFS also granted export permits for the samples, while the
CDC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services approved the import of these
samples into the United States.
Field site and study subjects
Sample collection took place annually from 2012 to 2014 in the
Madre de Dios Department of Southeastern Perú at the Estación
Biológica Rio Los Amigos (EBLA; 12°3407S, 70°0557W), which is
managed by the Asociación para la Conservación de La Cuenca
Amazonica. This site was previously known as the Centro de
Investigación y Capacitación Río Los Amigos (CICRA), see Watsa,
Erkenswick, Rehg, and Pitman (2012) for further description of the
site, including a detailed map of the location. The field station was
created in 2000, and aside from selective logging, the forest remains
intact. All sampling took place within a forest trail system that covers
approximately 900 ha of tropical rainforest that is adjacent to the Los
Amigos Conservation Concession inside the buffer zone of Manu
National Park. The collection area consists of five, nonmutually
exclusive, forest types including terra firme, primary forest, bamboo,
palm swamp, floodplain, and successional/disturbed forests (Pitman,
2008). There are two distinct seasons each year at this sitethe wet
season from October to March (average monthly precipitation > 250
mm), and the dry season from April to September (136 mm ± SD
19 mm; Watsa, 2013). All sampling took place during the dry season,
from MayJuly each year, precluding the study of the effects of
seasonality on the parasite community in these primates.
Three callitrichines at this site, the saddleback tamarin, emperor
tamarins, and the more cryptic Goeldis monkey (Callimico goeldii;
Watsa et al., 2012), share forest habitat with eight other primate
species including three species of Cebidae, and two species each of
Atelidae and Pithecidae, as well as owl monkeys (Aotus nigrifrons;
Watsa, 2013). At EBLA, both S. imperator and L. weddelli have average
group sizes of 5 (range of 38) individuals and group compositions
are similar (Watsa, Erkenswick, & Robakis, 2017; Watsa et al., 2015).
The primary differences between S. imperator and L. weddelli are adult
weight, 515 ± 66 and 386 ± 86g, respectively, and nuances in feeding
behavior including greater amounts of fungi consumption in S.
imperator (pers. obs.; Terborgh, 1985).
Sample collection and storage
Since 2009, an annual markrecapture program has been implemen-
ted on ~70 saddleback and emperor tamarins by Field Projects
International (Watsa et al., 2015). During capture, each individual is
permanently tagged with a microchip (Microchip ID Systems,
Covington, LA), and was made visually identifiable by unique patterns
of bleached rings around the tail, as well as a tricolor beaded
necklace that signified group, sex and individual identity (for the full
capture protocol see Watsa et al., 2015). In addition to collecting
fecal samples at the time of capture, we used radio telemetry to track
tamarins in 14 groups each year via a radio collar placed on the
breeding female in each group (Wildlife Materials, Murphysboro IL).
We also used both full (sleepsite to sleepsite, spanning ~11 hr) and
halfday (minimum 5 hr) follows to opportunistically collect fecal
samples from all group members as they were produced.
Each animal in the study was classified into one of three age
classes based on dental eruption patterns (Watsa, 2013). Juveniles
were defined as individuals whose adult teeth were absent or not
fully erupted (<11 months old). Subadults were animals with adult
teeth, but that were juveniles in the preceding year. All remaining
individuals were assigned to the adult age class. Due to small sample
sizes from the subadult class, the juveniles and subadult classes were
combined to analyze the effects of age on parasite prevalence.
Upon sample collection during markrecapture and follows, all
fecal samples were transferred using sterile technique into numbered
plastic bags and stored in a chilled thermos. Upon return to
basecamp, each sample was fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin
(1:2, feces to preservative ratio). For each sample, we recorded
species, individual ID, group, date, time of day, and type of collection
(follow or trapping event). Only samples produced by identified
individuals were included in this study. All samples were exported to
the University of MissouriSt. Louis for analyses.
Laboratory analysis
Isolation of parasite cysts, eggs, and larvae from fecal samples
followed a twostep process based on sedimentation procedures as
per MacIntosh et al. (2010) and Zajac and Conboy (2012). In Step 1,
we used a fecal straining procedure in which fecal samples were (a)
diluted in 10% neutral buffered formalin, (b) strained of large debris
through cheese cloth into a plastic cup, (c) transferred to a 15ml
falcon tube with an empty weight already recorded, (d) centrifuged at
800gfor 5 min to form a fecal pellet, (e) removed of the supernatant
and weighed, (f) resuspended and homogenized in 5 ml of 10%
formalin. In Step 2, we followed the centrifugal sedimentation test
outlined by Zajac and Conboy (2012) with 1ml of the homogenized
suspension from Step 1. Sedimentations from Step 2 were resus-
pended in exactly 1 ml of preservative, and 80 µl aliquots were placed
onto clean slides with 22× 22 mm coverslips for full evaluation with an
Olympus CX31 light microscope (Center Valley, PA) using ×200
magnification (micrographs were taken at higher power). Evaluations
of parasites were timed and tabulated using a free online data counter,
COUNT (, and each unique infection/
sample was documented with multiple micrographs taken with a Leica
ICC50 HD camera (Allendale, NJ). Three separate aliquots per sample
were evaluated with each evaluation taking an average of 10 min.
Unless infections were too rare, standard length and width
measurements from 10 representative micrographs per parasite per
species were recorded with a calibrated ruler in Image J (https:// to the nearest 1 µm. Sizes and measurements of all
parasite forms were compared with known references values in the
literature and identified to the lowest taxonomic scale possible.
Statistical analysis
For each animal and for each year of the study, if a parasite was
detected in one or more fecal samples it was considered a positive
parasite infection. Average prevalence, as well as the proportion of
individuals that acquired infection, lost infection, or showed no change
in infection status, was calculated for each helminth identified by
microscopy across the 3year study period. Average change in
infection status was determined by selecting all instances where an
individual was sampled across a 2year period, either 20122013 or
20132014, and computing the mean number of individuals that
acquired, lost, or did not change infection status. Differences in annual
helminth prevalence between host species were tested with a two
tailed Fishers Exact Test, followed by pvalue adjustment for multiple
comparisons using the HolmBonferroni method, αlevel of .05 (Holm,
1979). To test for variation in the presence of parasitic infections
across host variables we used mixedeffect logistic regression models
with a binary response variable and binomial errors. Fixed effects
included sex,”“age class,and speciesand random effects included
animal identityand yearto accommodate individual resampling and
possible interannual variation. We also incorporated the number of
samples collected per animal per year as an offset to account for
temporal sampling bias (Walther, Cotgreave, Price, & Gregory, 1995).
Parasite species richness, which was a discrete numerical response
variable, was analyzed with an identical model formula but using
Poisson errors. Model selection for all models was carried out with
stepwise term deletion by removing nonsignificant factors and
comparing nested models with a likelihood ratio test.
To test for significant correlations between group size and parasite
species richness we calculated rarified parasite community richness
estimates per group. The use of species accumulation curve estimates
are advocated by Walther et al. (1995), because raw values of parasite
community richness are easily biased by uneven sampling. We used
Spearmans rank correlations to test if parasite community richness
estimates with similar sampling effort were associated with group size.
To identify any nonrandom parasite cooccurrences, we compared
the prevalence of all observed pairwise coinfections with expected
estimates of coinfection (calculated as prevalence of A × prevalence of
B). We then plotted expected against observed values to identify
discordant levels of coinfection, and if applicable, used a twosample
ztest to compare proportions. All statistical analyses were performed
in R (R Development Core Team, 2015).
In total, we collected 288 individually identified fecal samples from
105 unique tamarins (71 L. weddelli,34S. imperator) distributed across
13 groups of L. weddelli and 7 groups of S. imperator. The number of
samples collected per individual per year ranged from 1 to 7, with a
mean of 1.6± 0.98. The average fecal sample weight, following Step 1
in sample processing (see Methods), was 0.41 ± 0.22 g. Across the
study period, we were able to assess individual infection status from
two or more fecal samples 40% (n= 71) of the time. Within this 40%,
redetection of a parasite infection is significantly correlated with
parasite prevalence for both species (for L. weddelli r (8) = .95, p<0.05,
for S. imperator r (7) = .69, p< 0.05), meaning that common infections
were relatively easy to redetect but rare parasites were difficult. This
pattern held for all resampling within a year, whether obtained from a
trapping event or collected during a primate follow. Considering all sex
and age classes, our sampling included slightly more males than
females across years, and subadults of both host species were the least
sampled age group (Table 1).
We were able to differentiate 10 helminth parasites by
morphology (Figure 1). The parasite ova were grouped based on
morphology, length, width, color, shell, and internal characteristics,
and compared with New World nonhuman primate helminth ova
descriptions reported in the literature. Suspect genus and/or species
for each morphogroup was suggested based on ova characteristics
and their similarity to those of parasites known to affect Callitrichi-
dae in the wild (Table 2). All but one rare parasitic infection, an
unidentified ova (Group A, Table 2), were found in both host species,
although prevalence profiles varied (Tables 3 and S2 for posthoc
adjusted pvalues). Prevalence for the Dicrocoeliidae was signifi-
cantly higher in S. imperator (Fishers test meanadjusted p< 0.05),
and Cestoda was significantly higher in L. weddelli (Fishers test mean
adjusted p< 0.05; Table 3). Our rarest parasite infections for both
host species were the unidentified ova and large larvated ova (Group
H, likely Primasubulura spp.), and also Cestoda for S. imperator. Out of
TABLE 1 Numbers of individuals sampled by species, sex, age
class, and year
L. weddelli S. imperator
Year 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014
Sex 36 46 34 18 23 19
Male 19 28 17 7 14 10
Female 17 18 17 11 9 9
Age class
Juvenile 893633
Subadult 461231
Adult 24 31 30 10 17 15
176 parasite screening events (animalyears), at least one parasite
was detected all but five times.
With caution due to the error associated with redetecting rare
parasites, we report that individual infections status remained
primarily unchanged (Figure 2). Among S. imperator, this pattern
differed slightly for strongylid ova and Dicrocoeliidae (Figure 2 and
Table S1). Among L. weddelli, we only detected slightly more frequent
changes in individual infection status for Cestoda.
Considering each year separately, we did not detect any
significant deviations between expected and observed prevalence
of coinfection (Figure 3); the largest absolute difference in
prevalence across all parasite combinations throughout the study
period was 0.07. We also found no evidence of a relationship
between group size (ranged 38) and estimated parasite species
richness within groups after controlling for sampling effort (Spear-
mans rank correlation = 0.08, p= .665, n= 30).
Out of the 10 helminths identified, 6 were common enough to
evaluate their distributions across host species, sex and age class
variables; the unidentified ova, Gongylonematidae, and the large
larvated ova (Primasubulura sp.) were too rare to analyze prevalence
patterns using statistical models. No parasitic infection exhibited a
significant sex bias; however, age and species did predict the
presence of 4 and 3 parasites, respectively (Table 4). Relative to L.
weddelli,S. imperator was positively associated with Dicrocoeliidae
but negatively associated with cestode and strongylid ova. Relative
to adults, juveniles and subadults were negatively associated with
Prosthenorchis and filariform larva, but positively associated with
cestode and the Rhabditoidea ova. Our models of parasite species
richness identified host species as the only significant predictor
considered in this study (Table 4), which had a significantly negative
estimate for S. imperator.
The results provided here, in combination with recent works on
hemoparasites at the same site (Erkenswick, Watsa, Gozalo, et al.,
2017), represent a benchmark against which future parasitological
surveys can be compared. Included in the parasite assemblages found
here were parasites that could be transmitted directly/indirectly or
FIGURE 1 Micrographs and measurements for each parasite
trophically, which may be differentially impacted by anthropogenic
disturbance and climate change. Worth noting, we also detected
differences from previous studies of parasites in congeneric
callitrichids. In northern Peru, both Müller (2007) and Wenz et al.
(2009) conducted snapshot surveys on sympatric callitrichids, S.
fuscicollis and S. mystax, and reported a parasite assemblage that
overlaps with our findings (including Prosthenorchis,Hymenolepis,
large and small spirurids, Primasubulura, and strongylid larvae).
Phillips et al. (2004) screened a group of S. fuscicollis in the nearby
Tambopata National Reserve and identified four parasites (Trichuris,
Iodamoeba,Entamoeba, and an unidentified strongyle), none of which
could be confirmed in our study. In this study, all samples were fixed
in formalin, which is not always preferred for screening of protozoan
parasites (Zajac & Conboy, 2012). Müller (2007) and Wenz et al.
(2009) also recorded higher prevalence than our study for every
helminth except Prosthenorchis, which was considerably less common.
These differences could be explained to some extent by, for instance,
the small sample size of four individuals in the study by Phillips et al.
TABLE 2 Parasite ova and larva characterization and classification
Group Name Characterization
A Unidentified ova Eggs are subglobose with a slightly flattened side and a smooth and thick transparent shell. Eggs
morphologically resemble Spirura guianensis ova but are unembryonated (Cosgrove, Nelson, & Jones, 1963;
Thatcher and Porter, 1968). A new species, S. delicata, was reported in a tamarin but the ova not described
(Vicente, Pinto, & Faria, 1992).
B Gongylonematidae Eggs are ovoid with a thick smooth transparent shell and larvated. Suspect genus Gongylonema spp. (Orihel &
Seibold, 1972; Strait et al., 2012).
C Unidentified cestoda ova Eggs are spherical with a clear mucus thick layer and embryonated, morphologically similar, but smaller, than
Hymenolepis spp. and Paratriotaenia spp. (Guerrero, SerranoMartínez, Tantaleán, Quispe, & Casas, 2012;
Müller, 2007).
D Strongylid ova Eggs are ellipsoidal, slightly tapered at one end, with a smooth thin shell and are unembryonated. Suspect
genera Molineus spp. Possibly M. vexillarius (Cogswell, 2007; Cosgrove et al., 1968; Dunn, 1961; Stone, Conga,
& Santos, 2016).
E Small embryonated ova Eggs are ellipsoidal, symmetrical, with a smooth, relatively thick shell and larvated. Two common nematodes in
tamarins with similar egg morphology are Trypanoxyuris spp. (Carrasco, Tantaleán, Gibson, & Williams, 2008;
Conga et al., 2014; Guerrero et al., 2012; Stone et al., 2016; Thatcher & Porter, 1968) and Trichospirura
leptostoma (Orihel & Seibold, 1971; Vicente et al., 1992; Vicente, de Oliviera Rodrigues, Corrêa Gomes, &
Pinto, 1997). Other parasites with similar ova occasionally reported in New World nonhuman primate species
are Physaloptera dilatata and Longistriata dubia. However, Ortlepp (1922) describes P. dilatata eggs as oval,
thickshelled, and measuring on average 39 × 27 µ, and Vicente et al. (1997) and Gibbons and Kumar (1980)
describe L. dubia as having thinshelled ova measuring 6279 × 3141 µ. P. dilatata eggs are not ellipsoidal and
are smaller than the ova found in the current study and L. dubia eggs are larger and with a thinner shell
compared with the ova found in the current study. Hence, the ova found are most likely Trypanoxyuris spp.
and/or Trichospirura leptostoma.
F Dicrocoeliidae ova Eggs are ovoid, goldenbrown with a thick shell and operculum. Based on ova morphology and size the suspect
species is Athesmia foxi =heterolecithoides (Cogswell, 2007; Thatcher & Porter, 1968).
G Rhabditoidea ova Eggs are ellipsoidal, with a smooth thin shell, and larvated. Suspect genus Strongyloides, possibly S. cebus
(Cogswell, 2007; Conga et al., 2014; Guerrero et al., 2012; Mati, Junior, Pinto, & de Melo, 2013; Parr, Fedigan,
& Kutz, 2013; Stone et al., 2016).
H Large larvated ova
Eggs are large, globular, with a thick irregular transparent shell and embryonated. Ova morphology is
characteristic for Primasubulura spp. Possibly P. jacchi or P. distans (Rocha, 2014; Tavela et al., 2013; Thatcher
and Porter, 1968; Vicente et al., 1997).
I Acanthocephala ova
(Prosthenorchis sp.)
Characteristic eggs are ovoid, brown, thick walled with three layers, the outer shell has fine reticular sculpting,
contains an acanthor. Suspect species Prosthenorchis elegans. Other species occasionally reported in
Callitrichidae is P. lenti, however, the ova for this species are much larger than the ones found in the current
study (Cogswell, 2007; Müller, 2007; Orihel & Seibold, 1972; Thatcher & Porter, 1968).
J Filariform larva Translucent larvae with a very long, sometimes coiled, thin tail. Tiny notch on tip of tail, characteristic of
Strongyloides larvae, was not observed. In addition, larvae were larger than reported Strongyloides rhabditiform
larvae. Little (1966) describes all stages of S. cebus larvae which are morphologically very different from the
larvae found in the tamarins.S. cebus larvae have a short and very muscular esophagus, something we did not
observe in the larvae found in the tamarins, and a shorter tail. Moreover, S. cebus eggs do not hatch until they
leave the body of the host and since the feces were collected immediately post defecation, chilled and within
6 hr placed in fixative, it is unlikely these larvae are Strongyloides spp. The morphology of the larvae found in
the tamarins agree with previous descriptions of Filariopsis barretoi larvae in South American monkeys.
Suspect genus Filariopsis spp, possibly F. barretoi (Lee, Boyce, & Orr, 1996; Orihel & Seibold, 1972; Parr et al.,
2013; Stone et al., 2016).
(2004), but broader differences are possibly explained by ecologically
distinct sites, including a higher helminth diversity due to increased
primate species diversity (11 species compared with 4). However, an
additional factor could be a consequence of prior human activities
(such as hunting), which increased the densities of small primate
species at EBLA (Pitman, 2008; Rosin & Swamy, 2013).
Our study underscores that wild animals generally maintain multiple
parasitic infections during their lives (Cox, 2001; Petney & Andrews,
1998), and that the combination of parasites may be particularly
important. Of the 10 helminths documented in this study, 6 are of
unknown pathogenicity, 2 are probably nonpathogenic, and 2 are known
to be pathogenic (Table 2). In this study population, Prosthenorchis sp.
(Phylum Acanthocephala) is among the most prevalent, and has been
hosted by some individuals for upwards of 12 years (Erkenswick,
unpublished data) despite numerous reports of high pathogenicity (King,
1993; Strait, Else, & Eberhard, 2012): the thornyheaded worms attach
themselves to the intestinal mucosa of a primate host and cause
inflammatory responses, obstruction of the lumen, and lesions and ulcers
that lead to secondary infections or even peritonitis in the worst cases.
Infections with Acanthocephala have been frequently reported in wild
callitrichids (Müller, 2007; Tantalean, Gozalo, & Montoya, 1990; Wenz
et al., 2009) and occasionally in other New World primates such as the
Cebidae and Atelidae (King, 1993; Phillips et al., 2004; Wenz et al., 2009).
This suggests that observations of particularly pathogenic parasites
should be taken in the context of the broader parasite community and
changes in the environment, which may be best achieved with
longitudinal data collection (Haukisalmi, Henttonen, & Tenora, 1988).
Although our analysis did not identify nonrandom associations
between coinfecting parasites, it is still possible that withinhost parasite
interactions are at play. Presenceabsence infection data is less sensitive
TABLE 3 Average annual prevalence by host species and parasite
Leontocebus weddelli Saguinus imperator
Class Parasite % SD %SD Diff Dispersal Pathogenic
Acanthocephala Prosthenorchis sp. 85 0.04 78 0.08 0.07 Trophic Yes
Cestoda Hymenolepis or Paratriotaenia 44 0.02 7 0.02 0.37
Trophic Unknown
Nematoda Unidentified ova 6 0.06 0 0 0.06 Trophic Possibly
Primasubulura 4 0.05 7 0.08 0.03 Trophic Unknown
Rhabditoidea ova 16 0.08 21 0.07 0.05 Trophic Unknown
Gongylonematidae 15 0.09 13 0.06 0.02 Trophic No
Sml embryonated ova 19 0.1 39 0.04 0.2 Trophic Unknown
Filariform larva 43 0.11 4 0.16 0.03 Direct Unknown
Strongylid ova 83 0.07 76 0.22 0.07 Direct No
Trematoda Dicrocoeliidae 8 0.1 4 0.12 0.32
Trophic Unknown
Note: Pathogenic classification reviewed in Müller (2007) with hosts appearing to tolerate well helminthic infections in the wild.
Abbreviations: % , average prevalence across the study period; Diff, difference in average prevalence between the host species; SD, standard deviation.
Significant differences (Fishers exact p< .05).
Spirura guianensis has been documented as pathogenic (See Group A, Table 2).
FIGURE 2 Averaged number of changes in individual infection status by host species across the study period
at detecting relationships than quantitative measures of parasite intensity
or burden (Knowles et al., 2013; Lello, Boag, Fenton, Stevenson, &
Hudson, 2004). Estimates of parasite intensity were omitted from the
present study as it remains uncertain how well eggs per quantity of feces
actually represents intensity of infection (Gillespie, 2006). Our hypothesis
that larger groups would show higher parasite species richness was not
supported. This finding is consistent with observations of blood parasites
in these primates (Erkenswick, Watsa, Gozalo, et al., 2017), and may be a
consequence of low group size variation (38 inds.). Some callitrichids can
occur in larger groups, for example, Callithrix at 15 members (Pontes & da
Cruz, 1995; Watsa et al., 2017), but it is also possible that group size and
parasite diversity cannot be linked within the Callitrichidae. Alternatively,
the majority of parasite taxa in this study are trophically transmitted,
rather than directly transmitted, which may not be influenced by group
size to the same extent.
Interpreting these findings in light of parasite mode of transmission,
direct or trophic, is challenging because although the majority of the
parasites detected were trophically transmitted via an intermediate host
(usually an arthropod), these intermediates are unknown in most cases.
While a comprehensive study of feeding ecology is a good next step in
our host populations, two studies on sympatric S. fuscicollis and S. mystax
(closely related to S. imperator)inNorthernPerúagreethatS. fuscicollis
spends significantly more time foraging in the lower strata and on the
ground, while the opposite was true of S. mystax (Heymann, Knogge, &
Tirado Herrera, 2000; Smith, 2000). Smith (2000) documented distinct
feeding preferences based on color and size of prey, a niche
specialization, if present at our site, that might account for observed
host differences in Dicrocoeliidae and Hymenolepis infections. This could
also explain variation in parasite species richness among these hosts via
differences in intermediate host encounter rates or the persistence of
parasite freeliving phases on the ground or in certain forest strata.
Consistent with the pattern of prevalence of blood parasites in this
population (Erkenswick, Watsa, Gozalo, et al., 2017), age class predicted
the presence of two trophically transmitted parasites, though we
obtained both positive and negative relationship estimates from our
models. We suspect that differences in diet and foraging efficiency
between younger and older individuals underlie different parasite
encounter rates, but differences in immune status, and cumulative
parasite exposure as animals age are also possibilities.
By tracking prevalence of parasitic infections over time in wild
populations it is possible to infer the stability of natural parasite
communities; however, longitudinal data at the level of the individual
provides insights into the source, or lack thereof, of population stability
FIGURE 3 Observed versus expected prevalence of parasite co
infection. Each dot represents a unique pairwise combination of
TABLE 4 Generalized linear mixed model outcomes for each parasite and parasite species richness
Parasite Fixed effect BSEWald (χ
)DF pValue
Prosthenorchis Intercept 0.7772 0.4963
Age: Subadult 1.4417 0.5459 6.9742 1 <0.05
Cestoda Intercept 2.4263 0.3764
Species: Simp 4.1473 0.8134 25.998 1 <0.05
Age: Subadult 1.9867 0.6172 10.36 1 <0.05
Rhabditoidea ova Intercept 4.2509 0.5863
Age: Subadult 1.3999 0.5733 5.9619 1 <0.05
Filariform larva Intercept 1.7792 0.3472
Age: Subadult 1.5110 0.6875 4.8303 1 <0.05
Strongylid ova Intercept 0.4347 0.4500
Species: Simp 0.8282 0.4322 3.6726 1 0.055
Dicrocoeliidae Intercept 4.4469 0.7193
Species: Simp 2.0681 0.4903 17.794 1 <0.05
PSR Intercept 0.4953 0.1528
Species: Simp 0.6648 0.1874 12.577 1 <0.05
Sml. embryonated ova Could not reject null models
Note: Minimal, bestfit models for the presence of each parasite and parasite species richness (PSR). Model selection began with fixed factors host sex,
age class,and species,while individual identityand yearwere incorporated as random effects, and the number of fecal samples collected for each
individual/year was included as a model offset. Infection data were insufficient to analyze the distribution of Unidentified ova, Gongylonematidae, and
Primasubulura.Simp denotes S. imperator.
(Knowles et al., 2013). In some cases, it could even aid in identification of
parasites that have negative health consequences. For example, if
parasite prevalence is consistently low relative to the incidence of new
infections across years, and there is little evidence that individuals clear
infections, then previously infected hosts must be disappearing regularly.
In this study, we report few disparities in the rate of acquisition or loss of
parasites, and considered in concert with observed prevalence, we see no
obvious signs of negative health consequences for these parasites.
However, consideration of individual infection status should be mindful of
the high correlation between redetection and parasite prevalence when
using data derived from microscopic evaluations.
Molecular parasite identifications will be critical to assure data
comparisons over time, geographic distance, across multiple laboratories,
and to differentiate between species whose eggs or other reproductive
stages are identical morphologically (SolórzanoGarcía & de León, 2018).
Microscopybased detection of parasites can lack sensitivity (Garamszegi,
2009) and be prone to bias. For example, we observed a strong positive
correlation between redetection of parasite infections across multiple
samples from the same individuals of the same year and overall parasite
prevalence. Moreover, it is possible that the same parasite population
across two closely related hosts can exhibit higher or lower levels of
subpopulation structure (Levin & Parker, 2013; McCoy, Boulinier, &
Tirard, 2005), reflecting more or less cross species sharing of parasites.
On the other hand, complete reliance on parasite molecular markers
ignores variation in parasite life stages and the discovery of unexpected
parasite infections, although the latter may be addressed if reliable
universal eukaryotic markers are developed (Hadziavdic et al., 2014;
Hugerth et al., 2014). Also, accessing the tools necessary to employ
molecular methods is still much more difficult than those for light
microscopy, though new efforts are underway to address the technology
disparity in locations were primate biodiversity is highest (Watsa,
Erkenswick, Pomerantz, & Prost, 2019). Hence, a dual approach of
utilizing molecular and microscopy methods to screen for parasite
infections is the current ideal (Valkiūnas et al., 2008).
This study provides the first description of the helminth parasite
assemblage of freeranging S. imperator, alongside a new comparative
data set from L. weddelli (formerly S. fuscicollis weddelli; Buckner et al.,
2015; Matauschek et al., 2011). Although the IUCN currently classifies
both species as least concern(Rylands & Mittermeier, 2008), S.
imperator has a vastly smaller species range than L. weddelli,andthecore
of its distribution in Peru overlaps with a rapidly expanding illegal gold
mining hub (Asner, Llactayo, Tupayachi, & Luna, 2013), threatened by
forest fragmentation and mercury contamination. S. imperator is currently
one of the most valuable Peruvian monkeys in the illegal wildlife trade
(Watsa, 2015). These factors emphasize the importance of this data set
for this region and its comparative nature allows us to dig deeper into
factors that could affect parasite distributions in wild primates.
In conclusion, we maintain that reliance on baseline parasite
infection data may become increasingly important to understand how
a fast changing physical and climatic environment is impacting
natural wildlife populations. The Callitrichidae are nearly ubiquitous
across South American rainforests, have a propensity to be found in
sympatry with other New World primates, and some species readily
exist in and around humanaltered landscapes. They also evidence
flexible, omnivorous diets that include autotrophs, fungi, insects, and
small vertebrates. As such, regular study of the parasites from this
family could serve as a potential flagship for the regional detection of
ecological changes, or even environmental threats.
We wish to thank research assistants from Field Projects International
who aided in the collection of tamarin fecal samples. We want to thank
Cindee Rettke for her assistance coordinating wet laboratory analyses,
and Aaron Erkenswick for creating a web application that was used to
record infection data. We express our gratitude to the following agencies
and organizations that provided nonmonetary support to this investiga-
tion: Centro de Ecologia y Biodiversidad, Amazon Conservation Associa-
tion, el Estación Biológica Río Los Amigos. This study was supported by
Field Projects International, the American Society of Mammalogists,
University of Missouri Trans World Airlines Scholarship Program,
Whitney R. Harris World Ecology Center, Sigma Xi Society, IdeaWild,
and the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of
Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Comparative
Medicine Branch.
The data that have been used in the production of this article are
available upon request. For a copy of the raw data, send an inquiry
email to the corresponding author.
Gideon A. Erkenswick
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Supporting Information section.
How to cite this article: Erkenswick GA, Watsa M, Gozalo AS,
et al. A multiyear survey of helminths from wild saddleback
(Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator)
tamarins. Am J Primatol. 2019;e23063.
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... The non-significant intra-individual variation indicates that these preliminary UNC data are likely reliable measures of UNC on an individual basis and justifies our choice to use a single sample for these multiply sampled individuals in the rest of the analysis. We speculate that the differences in the UNC measured in samples from sympatric S. imperator and L. weddelli could be attributed to two factors: variation in speciesspecific baseline neopterin concentrations, varying degrees of parasite infection [49], or both. Inter-specific variation is expected as there is notable variation in published UNC values across catarrhine species [3,36,37,[39][40][41][42][43][44]. ...
... Inter-specific variation is expected as there is notable variation in published UNC values across catarrhine species [3,36,37,[39][40][41][42][43][44]. Within our study populations, L. weddelli has been observed to have higher overall parasite species richness and helminth prevalence compared to S. imperator [49]. More specifically, L. weddelli are parasitized by two filarial nematode species (Mansonella spp. ...
... More specifically, L. weddelli are parasitized by two filarial nematode species (Mansonella spp. and Dipetalonema spp), compared to S. imperator that are parasitized by just one (Dipetalonema spp.) [49]. Helminth infections have been shown to interact with Th1 immune mechanisms and elevate neopterin levels [50], which could explain the higher measured UNC in L. weddelli compared to S. imperator. ...
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Background Non-invasive biomarkers can facilitate health assessments in wild primate populations by reducing the need for direct access to animals. Neopterin is a biomarker that is a product of the cell-mediated immune response, with high levels being indicative of poor survival expectations in some cases. The measurement of urinary neopterin concentration (UNC) has been validated as a method for monitoring cell-mediated immune system activation in multiple catarrhine species, but to date there is no study testing its utility in the urine of platyrrhine species. In this study, we collected urine samples across three platyrrhine families including small captive populations of Leontopithecus rosalia and Pithecia pithecia, and larger wild populations of Leontocebus weddelli, Saguinus imperator, Alouatta seniculus, and Plecturocebus toppini, to evaluate a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the measurement of urinary neopterin in platyrrhines. Results Our results revealed measured UNC fell within the sensitivity range of the assay in all urine samples collected from captive and wild platyrrhine study species via commercial ELISA, and results from several dilutions met expectations. We found significant differences in the mean UNC across all study species. Most notably, we observed higher UNC in the wild population of L. weddelli which is known to have two filarial nematode infections compared to S. imperator, which only have one. Conclusion Our study confirms that neopterin is measurable via commercial ELISA in urine collected from captive and wild individuals of six genera of platyrrhines across three different families. These findings promote the future utility of UNC as a promising biomarker for field primatologists conducting research in Latin America to non-invasively evaluate cell-mediated immune system activation from urine.
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The study of parasites is of great relevance to primatology given their ecological significance and their effects on primate demography, behavior, and evolution. Moreover, assessing the vulnerability of endangered species to parasitic infections is important in developing appropriate conservation strategies. We conducted an intensive bibliographical search to synthesize the available information about the parasites of Neotropical primates. We analyzed the host and parasite taxonomic coverage of the available studies, examined the advantages and disadvantages of the diagnostic techniques employed, identified information gaps that need to be addressed, and recommend future directions in the parasitological research of Neotropical primates. Researchers have reported 276 parasite taxa, including endo- and ectoparasites, in 21 of the 22 genera of Neotropical primates. Of these, 42 parasite species have also been reported in humans, although this number may be inaccurate owing to misidentification. The parasites of 50% of Neotropical primate species are completely unknown, and 32% of the parasites recorded in these hosts have not been identified to the species level. Information regarding ectoparasites is particularly limited. We need to develop methods that enhance parasite diagnosis accuracy when using noninvasive samples, and the incorporation of molecular techniques in routine procedures should be a priority in parasitological studies of Neotropical primates. An integrative approach in which veterinarians, primatologists, and parasitologists collaborate in the identification and treatment of parasites of Neotropical primates is essential to achieve significant progress in this field. © 2018 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature
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Cooperative breeders live in social groups in which individuals in an age–sex class vary in reproductive development due to reproductive dominance by a few individuals in each group. Among callitrichids, adult males have been implicated in driving group reproductive output, but uneven sampling efforts, the underlying effects of group size, and pseudoreplication at the group and species levels are confounding variables in these analyses. We examined the drivers of group reproductive output in callitrichids by 1) conducting a meta-analysis of published studies of callitrichid group composition; 2) assigning developmental class based on reproductive morphology; and 3) using multivariate modeling to test whether the proportion of individuals of each developmental class predicts the presence and the number of surviving offspring among free-ranging Weddell’s saddleback tamarins (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor tamarins (Saguinus imperator) in Peru. The meta-analysis revealed that the number of adult females and group size, but not the number of adult males, are significantly correlated with group reproductive output. Statistical models of the new dataset revealed that the proportion of primary breeding males, primary breeding females, and group size predicted whether groups had surviving infants, and that only the proportion of primary breeding females and group size predicted the number of surviving infants. Thus, primary breeding males appear to be necessary for groups to raise any infants, but a higher proportion of primary breeding females and a larger group size increase group reproductive output overall.
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There is an increased interest in potential zoonotic malarias. To date, Plasmodium malariae that infects humans remains indistinguishable from Plasmodium brasilianum, which is widespread among New World primates. Distributed throughout tropical Central and South America, the Callitrichidae are small arboreal primates in which detection of natural Plasmo-dium infection has been extremely rare. Most prior screening efforts have been limited to small samples, the use of low-probability detection methods, or both. Rarely have screening efforts implemented a longitudinal sampling design. Through an annual mark-recapture program of two sympatric callitrichids, the emperor (Saguinus imperator) and saddleback (Saguinus fuscicollis) tamarins, whole blood samples were screened for Plasmodium by microscopy and nested PCR of the cytochrome b gene across four consecutive years (2012–2015). Following the first field season, approximately 50% of the samples collected each subsequent year were from recaptured individuals. In particular, out of 245 samples from 129 individuals, 11 samples from 6 individuals were positive for Plasmodium, and all but one of these infections was found in S. imperator. Importantly, the cytochrome b sequences were 100% identical to former isolates of P. malariae from humans and P. brasi-lianum from Saimiri sp. Chronic infections were detected as evidenced by repeated infections (7) from two individuals across the 4-year study period. Furthermore, 4 of the 5 infected emperor tamarins were part of a single group spanning the entire study period. Overall, the low prevalence reported here is consistent with previous findings. This study identifies two new natural hosts for P. brasilianum and provides evidence in support of chronic infections in wildlife populations. Given that callitrichids are often found in mixed-species associations with other primates and can be resilient to human-disturbed environments , they could contribute to the maintenance of P. malariae populations if future work provides entomological and epidemiological evidence indicating human zoonotic infections.
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Parasite-host relationships are influenced by several factors intrinsic to hosts, such as social standing, group membership, sex, and age. However, in wild populations, temporal variation in parasite distributions and concomitant infections can alter these patterns. We used microscropy and molecular methods to screen for naturally occurring haemoparasitic infections in two Neotropical primate host populations, the saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator) tamarin, in the lowland tropical rainforests of southeastern Peru. Repeat sampling was conducted from known individuals over a three-year period to test for parasite-host and parasite-parasite associations. Three parasites were detected in L. weddelli including Trypanosoma minasense, Mansonella mariae, and Dipetalonema spp., while S. imperator only hosted the latter two. Temporal variation in prevalence was observed in T. minasense and Dipetalonema spp., confirming the necessity of a multi-year study to evaluate parasite-host relationships in this system. Although callitrichids display a distinct reproductive dominance hierarchy, characterized by single breeding females that typically mate polyandrously and can suppress the reproduction of subdominant females, logistic models did not identify sex or breeding status as determining factors in the presence of these parasites. However, age class had a positive effect on infection with M. mariae and T. minasense, and adults demonstrated higher parasite species richness than juveniles or sub-adults across both species. Body weight had a positive effect on the presence of Dipetalonema spp. The inclusion of co-infection variables in statistical models of parasite presence/absence data improved model fit for two of three parasites. This study verifies the importance and need for broad spectrum and long-term screening of parasite assemblages of natural host populations.
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While primate trapping is a widely used field methodology, there are substantial health, safety and social risks to handling wild primates, necessitating sharing of best-practice methods to minimize such risks. Yet, comprehensive capture-and-release protocols are rarely published, and updated even less frequently, despite advances that significantly elevate animal safety. Here, we propose a modified capture and release protocol for small primates and demonstrate its effectiveness on free-ranging populations of Saguinus weddelli (the saddleback tamarin) and Saguinus imperator (the emperor tamarin) in southeastern Peru. This study was conducted over seven years, from 2009 to 2015, and resulted in 346 capture instances with recaptures of the same individuals over years. We present a modified trap design that is lighter, locally produced, easy to set up and maintain, and is safer for animals. We provide data on how a ‘caller animal’ may dramatically increase the success of a new trapping program, but is not necessary on an ongoing basis. We also propose a conversion from previously used single-step anesthetization methods, which are more likely to result in loss of habituation or potential injury, to a novel dual-phase anesthetization process with no delays in processing times or increases in the amount of anesthetic administered. We discuss modifications to traditional trapping strategies that decrease distress to the animals before, during and after trapping. This method ensures high recapture rates and sustained animal habituation to trap sites and observers while also prioritizing animal safety.
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Recently, detection dogs have been utilized to collect fecal samples from cryptic and rare mammals. Despite the great promise of this technique for conservation biology, its broader application has been limited by the high cost (tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars) and logistical challenges of employing a scat-detection dog team while conducting international, collaborative research. Through an international collaboration of primatologists and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, we trained and used a detection dog to find scat from three species of unhabituated, free-ranging primates, for less than $3,000. We collected 137 non-human primate fecal samples that we confirmed by sequencing taxonomically informative genetic markers. Our detection dog team had a 92% accuracy rate, significantly outperforming our human-only team. Our results demonstrate that detection dogs can locate fecal samples from unhabituated primates with variable diets, locomotion, and grouping patterns, despite challenging field conditions. We provide a model for in-country training, while also building local capacity for conservation and genetic monitoring. Unlike previous efforts, our approach will allow for the wide adoption of scat-detection dogs in international conservation biology.
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Among primates, the Neotropical Callitrichid monkeys (tamarins and marmosets) exhibit a particular ability to adapt to disturbed and urbanized environments. However, little is known about physiological and health status in contrasting ecological contexts. An example of adaptation to urban environments is the white-footed tamarin (Saguinus leucopus), an endangered species endemic to the central Andes in North West Colombia. This species was used as a model to contrast physical condition, physiological parameters and the parasite community of wild populations in rural and urban settings. Overall, the tamarins seemed to be in good body condition in both environments; however, urban tamarins exhibited overweight, elevated body mass, and higher cholesterol levels, while rural tamarins showed larger diversity and prevalence of parasites. Variation in several hematological parameters associated with altitude was also observed. Our data provide preliminary evidence of differential physiological responses to urban and rural environments in tamarins. These results may be attributed to nutritional factors, physical activity, and specific parasite-host ecological interactions in these two environments. Also, abundance and diversity of the parasite community in urban environments may be potentially constrained by habitat fragmentation and relatively fewer reservoirs. Finally, significant physiological and ecological disparities between white-footed tamarins occurring in urban and rural habitats as well as physiological response to hypoxia at higher altitudes were evidenced here. This study provides important preliminary information that will be useful to determine the ability of New World primate populations to cope with urban development and rapidly changing environments.
South America is home to perhaps the largest and most diversified radiation (some 200 species) of nonhuman primates on Earth. Given the conservation imperative associated with forest destruction and environmental change, and recent increases in the number of primate field studies, the editors of this volume have brought together a distinguished set of primatologists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, and conservation scientists to examine the nature and range of primate responses to changes in their ecological and social environments, and to use data on South American monkeys to develop models to address critical theoretical questions in the study of primate behavior, ecology, and conservation. Chapters in the volume focus on issues of taxonomy, biogeography and evolution, reproduction and fertility, mating systems, demography and life history traits, genetics and kinship, cognition, feeding adaptations, predation, rainforest ecology, the affects of forest fragmentation on ecosystem health and disease, the impact of human hunting on mammalian communities, and competing pressures for land use between the local human population and the remaining primate population.