Helminth parasites of wolves (Canis lupus): a species list and an analysis of published prevalence studies in Nearctic and Palaearctic populations

J Helminthol. 2005 Jun;79(2):95-103. doi: 10.1079/joh2005282.


A literature survey was undertaken in order to draw up a definitive list of helminth parasites of the wolf, Canis lupus. From 27 papers a total of 72 helminth species from 40 genera were recorded that infect wolves, of which 93% were identified from the gastrointestinal tract at necropsy. They comprised 28 species of nematode, 27 species of cestode, 16 species of trematode and one acanthocephalan. Of these, 46 species were able to be included in further meta-analysis of prevalence data derived from 25 publications for which the total number of wolves examined was 1282 (1066 from Nearctic populations, and 216 from the Palaearctic region). These two populations were further subdivided into three relevent ecosystems or biomes, i.e. temperate/montane (n=216), boreal (n=805) or tundra (n=261). The meta-analysis of relative prevalence indicated the most common helminth species to be the tapeworm Taenia hydatigena, which occurred at relative rates of >30% for either zoogeographic region as well as in each of the three biomes. The related tapeworm, Echinococcus granulosus also exhibited high meta-prevalence (>19%) in all host biomes. The hookworm Uncinaria stenocephala was the most prevalent nematode species by meta-analysis (meta-prevalence 44.9%) in the temperate/montane biome, while the ascarid Toxascaris leonina was the dominant helminth species (meta-prevalence 73.9%) in the tundra wolf populations. Trematodes in the genus Alaria were the dominant fluke (meta-prevalence 3-5%) in all biomes. Analysis of published studies for helminth biodiversity using the Shannon-Wiener index based on species number and meta-prevalence by region or biome, indicated that highest helminth diversity occurred in wolf populations of the temperate/ montane biome (Palaearctic), and was lowest in tundra wolf populations of the Nearctic (P<0.05). Helminth species assemblage in European wolf populations was therefore at least as great or more varied than was recorded for the larger less disturbed wolf populations of North America.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Helminthiasis, Animal / epidemiology
  • Helminthiasis, Animal / parasitology*
  • Helminths / classification
  • Helminths / isolation & purification*
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / parasitology*
  • North America / epidemiology
  • Russia / epidemiology
  • Wolves / parasitology*