Abstract # 2636 Event # 189:

Scheduled for Monday, September 21, 2009 09:30 AM-09:40 AM: Session 17 (Shell Room) Oral Presentation


FLUKES FOOD AND FORESTS: TRANSMISSION OF CONTRORCHIS SPP. IN ALOUATTA PIGRA FEEDING ON CECROPIA PELTATA IN SOUTHERN BELIZE

B. K. Kowalzik1, M. S. Pavalka1 and S. J. Kutz2
1Univeristy of Calgary, Department of Anthropology, 2500 Univeristy Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada, 2Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary G#359 3330 Hospital Dr NW Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1 Canada
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Numerous species of endoparasite have been documented from Alouatta pigra (Belizean black howler monkeys), including Controrchis spp. (Dicrocoeliidae). All dicrocoelid trematodes have indirect lifecycles requiring arthropod intermediate hosts for transmission. As A. pigra eat almost exclusively fruit and leaves, we hypothesized that Controrchis spp. is transmitted to the monkeys through the accidental ingestion of arthropods during the consumption of Cecropia peltata. Fire ants (Azteca spp.) have a mutualistic relationship with C. peltata and are thought to be the second intermediate host in the lifecycle of Controrchis spp. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the intensity (eggs / gram of feces) of Controrchis spp. in the feces of individuals with the amount of time spent feeding on C. peltata. From January-June 2007 focal animal sampling was used to determine the diet of 17 A. pigra in a hurricane-damaged forest in Monkey River, Belize. 93 fecal samples were collected from these individuals and analyzed using a modified Wisconsin quantitative sugar centrifugation technique. As predicted, the percent of time individuals spent feeding on C. peltata had a significant positive effect on Controrchis spp. intensity [Linear regression, F-test, p=0.028, r²=0.28]. C. peltata is a pioneer species important in the diet of A. pigra, particularly in disturbed forests. The relationship between the ingestion of C. peltata and Controrchis spp. intensity suggests an important link between habitat disturbance and parasitism.