Community composition, correlations among taxa, prevalence, and richness in gastrointestinal parasites of baboons in Senegal, West Africa.
Studies of gastrointestinal parasite prevalence in Papio have either focused on a single troop or compared prevalence among troops that share migrants but differ in degree of human contact. Little is known about the extent of variation in prevalence where obvious factors that may drive prevalence (e.g., human contact) are absent, so it is difficult to interpret variation when these factors are present. To address this issue, we studied troops of Guinea baboons (Papio papio) that had almost no contact with humans or domesticated species of plants or animals. We tested the null hypotheses that community composition, richness, and prevalence would be similar between groups in two comparisons: (1) between troops in the same locality with no known differences in drivers of prevalence, and (2) between samples at the same location taken more than 20 years apart. We collected anonymous fecal samples from two troops of baboons living in a wilderness site, Mt. Assirik, in the Niokolo-Koba National Park, Republic of Senegal, West Africa. We collected samples from two valleys and analyzed prevalence and richness with respect to place and time. Both prevalence and richness were similar in the two valleys, but significant changes emerged in both prevalence and community composition compared with the previous survey in 1978-1979. We also found that the nematode Enterobius and a fluke, Watsonius, co-occurred within hosts more frequently than expected. This phenomenon has not been previously noted in the literature, and it suggests common environmental drivers or facilitation among these parasites.
Department of Biology, Orange County Community College, Middletown, NY, USA. mercedesebbert@SUNYorange.edu