|Kim Phillips, Ph.D.|
|Survey of the Gastrointestinal Parasites of the Primate Community in Tambopata Reserve, Peru|
|Location: Tambopata-Candamo Research Center, Peru|
|Species: Primates (eight species)|
|Abstract: Little information regarding intestinal parasites of primates in the wild is known, despite the fact that parasitic infections have been identified as critical components to consider in conservation biology. This project will provide data on the prevalence and intensity of gastrointestinal parasites occurring in the eight species of wild primates in Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, Peru.|
Project Update: January 2004
The main objective of this project was to provide baseline data on fecal parasites of groups of nonhuman primates from Tambopata Research Center, Tambopata National Reserve, Peru. All primate species found in this area were sampled: red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus), night monkeys (Aotus vociferans), spider monkeys (Ateles bezlebuth chamek), brown titi monkeys (Callicebus brunneus), white-fronted capuchins (Cebus albifrons), brown capuchins (Cebus apella), saddleback tamarins (Saguinus fuscicollis), andsquirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). A total of 86 individual fecal samples were collected from 15 different primate groups from July through October 2002. Forty-four percent of all individuals sampled were infected with at least one type of gastrointestinal parasite. Results indicate the presence of various protozoans in all primate species represented by five genera: Blastocystis hominis, Chilomastix mesnili, Endolimax nana, Entamoeba sp. and Iodamoeba buetschii. These parasites included Ascaris sp., Strongyloides, Trichuris trichiura, Schistosoma mansoni, Prosthenochoris elegans, and an unidentified strongyle. Helminth parasites were identified in all primate species except Callicebus. Ancyclostoma sp., Ascaris sp., Strongyloides stercoralis, Trichuris trichiura, Prosthenorchis elegans, and Schistosoma mansoni.
The intestinal parasites identified in the primate community of the Tambopata Research Center are broadly similar to those reported in other New World Primates. With the exception of Schistosoma mansoni, which was detected in Aotus, all parasites have been identified previously in Alouatta, Ateles, Aotus, Saimiri, or Saguinus individuals. Additionally, this report provides the first data for parasitic infections of wild Cebus apella, C. albifrons, and Callicebus brunneus. Although this study is representative of only a point in time, this research illustrates that several primate species in this community have similar parasitic infections.
The results of this study provide an important baseline for future investigations of gastrointestinal parasites in this primate community. In particular, the presence of Schistosoma mansoni (in one Aotus individual) and Ascaris sp. (in two Aotus individuals and one Cebus paella individual) may warrant future work as some researchers have suggested that the presence of these parasites in wild non-human primate populations may be indicative of anthropozoonotic exchange. The study site, located within the Tambopata National Reserve, Peru, currently has limited human activity. Given that tourism and researcher related impacts on wildlife will probably increase in the future at not only this location but at other field sites, protocols governing human behaviour at field sites, parks and reserves should be established and enforced to prevent exposure of wildlife to human-borne pathogens.
Kim and her collaborators have published the full results of this study in the Journal of Zoology Vol: 264, Issue: 2, October 2004, pp. 149-151.