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Ectoparasites of endemic and domestic animals in southwest Madagascar

Ehlers, Julian, Poppert, Sven, Ratovonamana, Rakotomalala Yedidya, Ganzhorn, Jörg Ulrich, Tappe, Dennis, Krüger, Andreas
Acta tropica 2019 v.196 pp. 83-92
Echidnophaga gallinacea, carnivores, chickens, disease transmission, forest damage, forests, habitats, host preferences, host specificity, hosts, humans, indigenous species, introduced species, lice, littoral zone, mice, mites, national parks, rats, shrublands, ticks, trapping, traps, wet season, Madagascar
Human encroachment of natural habitats bears the threat of disease transmission between native and introduced species that had not come into contact before, thus promoting the spread of new diseases in both directions. This is a matter of concern especially in areas where human-wildlife contact has not been intense in the recent past. In southwest Madagascar, we collected ectoparasites from various mammalian hosts and chicken, and examined their host preferences and their prevalence in relation to season and habitat degradation.Field-work took place in the northern portion of Tsimanampetsotsa National Park and the adjacent coastal strip (littoral) in the dry and in the rainy season of 2016/2017. Endemic mammals were trapped with live traps placed in habitats of different degrees of degradation: 1) relatively pristine forest, 2) degraded forest, 3) cultivated and shrub land. Rats and mice were also trapped in 4) villages.We identified 17 species of ectoparasites (296 individuals of ticks [5 species], 535 lice [7 spp.], 389 fleas [4 spp.] and 13 mites [1 sp.]) collected from 15 host species. There was no indication for seasonal or habitat effects on parasite infection. A large portion of the parasites was host-specific. Some ectoparasite species were shared either by several endemic or by several introduced species, but apart from the introduced flea species Echidnophaga gallinacea (collected from six different hosts including the endemic carnivore Galidictis grandidieri) no other ectoparasite species was shared between endemic and introduced host species.