New Pub: Tamarin helminth survey

Primates, due to their longevity, take a great deal of time to understand. The same could be done within a matter of months for rodents, but to get baseline data on a wild primate, you have to really clock some hours. One of the neatest outcomes, therefore, is when all of that work pays off in the form of some interesting discoveries. And this is what happened on this particular publication, primarily led by the research of Gideon Erkenswick.

Parasites are ubiquitous within all wild primates, and simply hosting a parasite doesn’t actually make them ill. Our goal here was to establish what “normal” looked like for a wild tamarin. We worked for 30 group-years (a span of 3 calendar years) to examine 105 individuals (71 saddleback and 34 emperor tamarins) across a magnificent total of 288 hard-earned fecal samples.

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Within these, we identified 10 parasite taxa by light microscopy after standard sedimentation/flotation techniques.

Here is a summary of our findings, as an excerpt from the paper:

“Of these taxa, none were host‐specific, Dicrocoeliidae and Cestoda prevalences differed between host species, Prosthenorchis and Strongylida were the most prevalent. Host age was positively associated with Prosthenorchis ova and filariform larva, but negatively with cestode and the Rhabditoidea ova. We detected no differences between expected and observed levels of co‐infection, nor between group size and parasite species richness over 30 group‐years. Logistic models of individual infection status did not identify a sex bias; however, age and species predicted the presence of four and three parasite taxa, respectively, with saddleback tamarins exhibiting higher PSR. Now that we have reliable baseline data for future monitoring of these populations, next steps involve the molecular characterization of these parasites, and exploration of linkages with health parameters.”


Erkenswick G., Watsa M, Gozalo A.S., A.S., Dudaie, S., Bailey, L., Muranda, K.S., Kuziez, A. and Parker, P.G. (2019). A multiyear survey of helminths from wild saddleback (Leontocebus weddelli) and emperor (Saguinus imperator) tamarins. Amer. J. Primatol. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.23063 

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