Effects of Stress and Environmental Factors on Patterns of Infection with Gastrointestinal Commensals and Parasites in the Critically Endangered Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa Open Access

Aronoff, Jennifer Troy (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/jd472x16k?locale=en
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Abstract

An abstract of
a thesis submitted to the Faculty of Emory College of Arts and Sciences
of Emory University in partial fulfillment
of the requirements of the degree of
Bachelor of Science with Honors
Department of Environmental Studies
2012

"Effects of Stress and Environmental Factors on Patterns of Infection with Gastrointestinal Commensals and Parasites in the Critically Endangered Black
Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa"

This work examined gastrointestinal microbes in a population of black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis bicornis) in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa. The study was conducted to establish a health-monitoring program for this species by creating a profile of gastrointestinal parasites and commensals as a baseline indicator of rhinoceros vitality and health. Some 234 fecal samples were collected following direct and remote observations of defecation from January 2008 to June 2011 in two areas of Addo Park, Main Camp and Nyathi. The two collection sites vary with respect to environmental factors of elephant density, climate, predator density, habitat size, and tourism. Each sample was examined using fecal flotation and fecal sedimentation processes to identify and count microbes. Glucocorticoid analyses were done to evaluate levels of stress. Nyathi rhinos had significantly higher prevalence of most (14/16) of the commensal parasite species and individual Nyathi rhinos were concurrently infected with significantly more species of commensals compared to Main Camp rhinos. Rhinozeta rhinozeta, Triplumaria corrugata, Monoposthiurn vulgaris, Gilchristata artemis and Unidentified ciliates all showed significant trends for higher prevalence among rhinos in the Nyathi section.Co-infection occurred significantly more than expected between Oesophagostomum sp. and Necator sp. as well as Strongyloides sp. and Necator sp. No relationships were apparent among stress level, total precipitation and parasite/commensal richness. These results demonstrate that commensal communities of herbivores can be sensitive to environmental variability even when parasites and host stress levels are relatively constant.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Introduction...1-4
Materials and Methods...4

Study Site...4-6
Measurements/Statistical Analysis...6-9

Results...9

Prevalence...9-12
Magnitude of Infection...12-13
Co-Infection...13
Stress Concentration and Parasite Burden...13-14
Precipitation and Parasite/Ciliate Richness...14-15

Discussion...16-18
References...19-22
Appendix I...23
Appendix II...23-24

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