Variation of parasite burden within the European badger (Meles meles): the effect of season, habitat, body condition, gender & age on the prevalence of Eimeria melis and Capillaria
Cottrell, Elizabeth Rosemarie Anne
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
1. Parasites, although naturally occurring can have severe impacts on both an individual host and on the wider population and ecosystem. 2. This study investigates the relationship of parasite burden within the European badger (N=175) with several life history characteristics such as age, condition, gender and co-infection of bovine tuberculosis and with the environmental factors of habitat and season. 3. Using two general linear mixed models results showed significant positive relationships between Eimeria melis burden and age and gender, and between Capillaria spp., age and month of sampling. A significant negative correlation was also observed between Capillaria spp. and badger body condition index. No significant results were found for habitat type or in the further GLMM’s (N=124) run to investigate co-infection of bovine tuberculosis. 4. The opportunity to investigate complex parasite interactions in a wild population of known individuals is rare and a valuable opportunity. Parasite burdens in Meles meles were found to be extremely variable with some exhibiting very high faecal egg/oocyst output. Results suggest that such burdens of gastro-intestinal parasites do have a relationship with life history characteristics and condition and therefore should be taken into account when wildlife disease management protocols or ecological studies are carried out.
Food and Environment Research Agency
MbyRes in Biosciences