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    Parasites are ubiquitous and evolve fast. Therefore, they represent major selective forces acting on their hosts by influencing many aspects of their biology. Humans are no exception, as they share many parasites with animals and some of the most important outbreaks come from primates. While it appears important to understand the factors involved in parasite dynamics, we still lack a clear understanding of the determinants underlying parasitism. In this 2-year study, we identified several factors that influence parasite patterns in a wild population of free-ranging mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx). We explored the potential impact of seasonal factors-rainfall and temperature-and host characteristics, including sex, age, rank, and reproductive status, on parasite richness. We analyzed 12 parasite taxa found in 870 fecal samples collected from 63 individuals. Because nematodes and protozoa have different life-cycles, we analyzed these two types of parasites separately. Contrary to other studies where humid conditions seem favorable to parasite development, we report here that rainfall and high temperatures were associated with lower nematode richness and were not associated with lower protozoa richness. In contrast, female reproductive status seemed to reflect the seasonal patterns found for protozoa richness, as early gestating females harbored more protozoa than other females. Sex and dominance rank had no impact on overall parasite richness. However, age was associated with a specific decrease in nematode richness. Our study emphasizes the need to consider the ecological context, such as climatic conditions and habitat type, as well as the biology of both parasite and host when analyzing determinants of parasite richness. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

    Citation

    Clémence Poirotte, Didier Basset, Eric Willaume, Fred Makaba, Peter M Kappeler, Marie J E Charpentier. Environmental and individual determinants of parasite richness across seasons in a free-ranging population of Mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx). American journal of physical anthropology. 2016 Mar;159(3):442-56

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    PMID: 26515669

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