Ectoparasites of the critically endangered insular cavy, Cavia intermedia (Rodentia: Caviidae), southern Brazil

Int J Parasitol Parasites Wildl. 2015 Jan 7;4(1):37-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ijppaw.2014.12.009. eCollection 2015 Apr.


Cavia intermedia is a rodent species critically endangered and is found only on a 10 hectare island off the southern Brazilian coast. To identify the ectoparasites of C. intermedia, 27 specimens (14 males and 13 females), representing approximately 65% of the estimated total population, were captured and examined. A total of 1336 chewing lice of two species were collected: Gliricola lindolphoi (Amblycera: Gyropidae) and Trimenopon hispidum (Amblycera: Trimenoponidae). In addition, chiggers Arisocerus hertigi (Acari: Trombiculidae) and Eutrombicula sp. (Acari: Trombiculidae) were collected from the ears of all captured animals. This low species richness compared to those for other Cavia species is expected for island mammals. Although the results presented here are not conclusive about the relationship between C. intermedia and ectoparasites, this low species richness found might be reflected in a low level of investment by the hosts in the basal immune defense, since investments in white blood cell production by mammals are influenced by the diversity of parasites in the environment. Additionally, considering that it might result in host vulnerability to other parasites that might be introduced through exotic or migratory host species, the monitoring of C. intermedia, including parasitological and immunological assessments, is recommended as a key component of conservation efforts.

Keywords: Chewing lice; Gyropidae; Insular syndrome; Island biogeography; Trimenoponidae; Trombiculidae.