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Demography, Hunting Ecology, and Pathogen Exposure of Domestic Dogs in the Isoso of Bolivia

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Disease is increasingly recognized as a threat to the conservation of wildlife, and in many cases the source of disease outbreaks in wild carnivores is the domestic dog. For disease to spill over from a domestic to a wild population, three conditions must be satisfied: susceptibility of the wild species, presence of the disease agent in the domestic population, and contact between the two populations of interest. We investigated the potential for disease spillover from the domestic dog population to the wild carnivore population in the Isoso of Bolivia, an area of tropical dry forest contiguous with a national park. Using questionnaires and discussions with residents, we gathered data on the demography of dogs in the Isoso, including adult and neonatal mortality, litter size, and hunting frequency. We analyzed a large data set containing self-recorded information on hunting in various communities of the Isoso to determine the extent of dog participation in hunting and the duration of hunting trips. Finally, we took blood samples from dogs in the Isoso for a serosurvey of common canine pathogens. More than 95% of dogs had positive titers to canine distemper virus and canine parvovirus. There was also a high seroprevalence in dogs for other pathogens, a high population turnover of dogs (which may allow diseases to be maintained endemically), and frequent opportunities for contact between domestic and wild carnivores. Based on our results and the susceptibility of wild species previously reported in the literature, domestic dogs represent a disease risk for wildlife in the Bolivian Isoso.
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Keywords: buffer zones; carnivore conservation; conservación de carnívoros; disease ecology; disease spillover; domestic dogs; ecología de enfermedades; muestreo de suero; perros domésticos; secuela de enfermedades; serosurvey; zonas de amortiguamiento

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Bolivia Program, Wildlife Conservation Society, Casilla 6272, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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