Association of Anthropogenic Disturbances and Intestinal Parasitism in Ecuadorian Mantled Howler Monkeys, Alouatta palliata aequatorialis

Folia Primatol (Basel). 2017;88(3):307-322. doi: 10.1159/000479687. Epub 2017 Sep 29.


Forest disturbance and human encroachment have the potential to influence intestinal parasite communities in animal hosts by modifying nutritional health, physiological stress, host densities, contact rates, and ranging patterns. Anthropogenic disturbances also have the ability to affect the ecological landscape of parasitic disease, potentially impacting the health of both wildlife and people. Our research investigated the association of forest disturbance and human encroachment on intestinal parasite communities in mantled howler monkeys, Alouatta palliata aequatorialis. We found that individual parasite species prevalence was associated with group size and forest disturbance. Proximity to people was not a direct factor influencing intestinal parasitism; rather, several human proximity indices were related to group size, which was in turn related to overall species richness and the presence of specific parasite species. These results, coupled with previous findings, suggest that anthropogenic disturbances are likely influencing intestinal parasite communities. Though no single study has definitively explained all relationships between anthropogenic disturbances and intestinal parasitism, we propose that our models are appropriate for meta-analysis testing across other species and environments.

Keywords: Alouatta palliata; Anthropogenic disturbance; Ecuador; Logging; Parasitism; Primates.

MeSH terms

  • Alouatta*
  • Animals
  • Ecuador / epidemiology
  • Forestry
  • Human Activities
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / parasitology
  • Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic / veterinary*
  • Models, Biological
  • Monkey Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Monkey Diseases / parasitology