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Host-parasite interactions of tropical bats in Puerto Rico

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Bats are receiving increasing attention in the parasitological world due to their potential role as reservoir hosts for zoonotic pathogens. However, details of the macroparasitic fauna (helminths and ectoparasites) are currently recorded and studied. Here, we start to address this paucity of data by detailing a study where we have documented the macroparasite fauna of a sample of tropical bats (Mormoops blainvillei, Pteronotus quadridens, and Monophyllus redmani) from Puerto Rico. Additionally, we investigated the possible host characteristics influencing the prevalence and intensity of macroparasite infection. Macroparasites were collected and identified from three species of bat, which were thoroughly washed and dissected. The overall parasite community of all three bat species consisted of a range of ectoparasites as well as the cestode Vampirolepis christensoni and the nematode Capillaria pusilla, although there was considerable variation in the parasite community of each individual species. We discovered bat flies of a previously undescribed species of the Nycterophilia genus as well as new parasite records for all three species of bats. All parasites had an aggregated distribution within the host population. Differences were observed in the intensity of the helminths between bat species, but not for ectoparasite prevalence. As the helminth intensity increased so the ectoparasite intensity decreased. Overall, the helminth intensity was female-biased and increased, for both sexes with increasing body mass; no sex-bias or body mass effects were associated with ectoparasite prevalence.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2009

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