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Endangered Species Research

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ESR 12:215-225 (2010)  -  DOI:

Contribution to the Theme Section 'Responses of animals to habitat alteration'

Parasite prevalence in blue-eyed black lemurs Eulemur flavifrons in differently degraded forest fragments

Nora Schwitzer1,4, Dagmar Clough2, Horst Zahner1, Werner Kaumanns3, Peter Kappeler2, Christoph Schwitzer4,*

1Institut für Parasitologie, Justus-Liebig-Universität, Rudolf-Buchheim-Strasse 2, 35392 Giessen, Germany
2Abteilung Verhaltensökologie & Soziobiologie/Anthropologie, Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
3Eschenweg 5, 37130 Gleichen, Germany
4Bristol Conservation and Science Foundation, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3HA, UK
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The parasite burden of an animal population has frequently been used as an indicator of the stress level to which the population is exposed. Primates inhabiting small forest fragments are more likely to experience human contact, reduced food availability and restricted ranging—any or all of which may contribute to a higher parasite prevalence—than populations inhabiting intact primary forest. Recent and ongoing human exploitation of otherwise intact forest may also affect disease burden and parasite transmission in primates. The parasites of blue-eyed black lemurs Eulemur flavifrons have not as yet been subject to scientific research. This paper describes the various parasites found in E. flavifrons and shows parasite prevalence in lemur groups living in differently degraded fragments of the Ankarafa Forest in Sahamalaza National Park, northwest Madagascar. We analysed 166 faecal samples of E. flavifrons inhabiting primary forest and 168 from groups inhabiting secondary forest. In addition, faecal samples and ectoparasites were collected from 18 immobilised lemurs. Forty-three (12.9%) samples contained parasite eggs (Lemuricola spp. and Callistoura spp.) or oocysts. Ten (55.6%) of the 18 samples from immobilised lemurs contained adult Lemuricola spp. Parasite prevalence was significantly higher in secondary than in primary forest, at 7.9 and 4.8% of all positive samples, respectively. Prevalence was high when compared to other studies on parasite load in wild lemurs, suggesting that in our survey area, E. flavifrons were generally under pressure, possibly due to the high degree of fragmentation and degradation of the remaining forest habitat.

KEY WORDS: Eulemur flavifrons · Primary forest · Secondary forest · Lemuricola · Callistoura · Seasonality

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Cite this article as: Schwitzer N, Clough D, Zahner H, Kaumanns W, Kappeler P, Schwitzer C (2010) Parasite prevalence in blue-eyed black lemurs Eulemur flavifrons in differently degraded forest fragments. Endang Species Res 12:215-225.

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