The Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) is the only naturally occurring tree squirrel throughout its range. We aim at improving current knowledge on its macroparasite fauna, expecting that it will have a poor parasite diversity because in species that have no sympatric congeners parasite richness should be lower than in hosts sharing their range with several closely related species, where host-switching events and lateral transmission are promoted. We examined gastro-intestinal helminth and ectoparasite communities (excluding mites) of, respectively, 147 and 311 red squirrel roadkills collected in four biogeographic regions in Italy and France. As expected, the macroparasite fauna was poor: we found five species of nematodes and some unidentified cestodes, three fleas, two sucking lice and two hard ticks. The helminth community was dominated by a single species, the oxyurid Trypanoxyuris (Rodentoxyuris) sciuri (prevalence, 87 %; mean abundance, 373 ± 65 worms/host). Its abundance varied among seasons and biogeographic regions and increased with body mass in male hosts while decreased in females. The most prevalent ectoparasites were the flea Ceratophyllus (Monopsyllus) sciurorum (28 %), whose presence was affected by season, and the generalist tick Ixodes (Ixodes) ricinus that was found only in France (34 %). All the other helminths and arthropod species were rare, with prevalence below 10 %. However, the first record of Strongyloides robustus, a common nematode of North American Eastern grey squirrels (S. carolinensis), in two red squirrels living in areas where this alien species co-inhabits, deserves further attention, since low parasite richness could result in native red squirrels being particularly vulnerable to parasite spillover.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2013|
|Titolo:||Macroparasite community of the Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris): poor species richness and diversity|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/s00436-013-3535-8|
|Codice identificativo ISI:||WOS:000324326500018|
|Codice identificativo Scopus:||2-s2.0-84884704676|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Articolo su Rivista|