Landscape characteristics influence helminth infestations in a peri-domestic rodent - implications for possible zoonotic disease
CITATION: Froeschke, G. & Matthee, S. 2014. Landscape characteristics influence helminth infestations in a peri-domestic rodent - implications for possible zoonotic disease. Parasites & Vectors, 7:393 doi:10.1186/1756-3305-7-393.
The original publication is available at http://www.parasitesandvectors.com/content/7/1/393
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.
Background Anthropogenic habitat change often results in altered landscapes that can provide new environments where hosts, parasites and pathogens can interact. The latter can have implications for human and animal health when in close proximity to developed areas. We recorded the helminth species richness and level of infestation in the peri-domestic rodent, Rhabdomys pumilio, in three different human linked landscapes. The aim was, to investigate the potential of R. pumilio to act as a reservoir host for zoonotic helminths and to compare the effect of anthropogenic habitat change on its parasite infestation patterns. Methods Rodents (n = 518) were trapped in natural areas (nature reserves) and in three human linked landscapes (crop, livestock and urban fragments). Gastrointestinal parasite burdens were recovered and helminths identified from each animal. Generalized linear models were applied to investigate the effect of different landscape types on helminth infestation. Results Rhabdomys pumilio was the most abundant rodent species within each landscape type. Eight helminths species were recovered and overall helminth prevalence was 86.68%. Mean helminth species richness, prevalence and abundance were significantly higher in crop fragments compared to natural landscapes and overall lower for nematodes in livestock and urban areas. Cestode prevalence showed a tendency to be elevated at anthropogenic linked landscape types. Conclusions Host parameters and parasite infestations were strongly influenced by landscape characteristics. Resource-rich landscapes (crop fragments) provide favorable conditions for helminth infestations, while landscapes that are more closely associated with humans (livestock and urban landscapes) pose a larger risk by zoonotic species.