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Parasitology. 2007 Mar;134(Pt 3):437-50. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

Host ecology and variation in helminth community structure in Mastomys rodents from Senegal.

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IRD (UR 022), Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations, Campus International de Baillarguet, CS 30016, 34988 Montferrier/Lez cedex, France.


We studied patterns of variation in parasite communities of 2 closely related species of Mastomys rodents. These 2 species live in sympatry in South-eastern Senegal, but differ drastically in their habitat choice. We asked (a) whether the host species have the same parasites; (b) whether there is any observable pattern relative to the host species/habitat type in the structure of parasite communities; (c) whether the variability in parasite community for each host species is related to habitat characteristics. We analysed 220 and 264 individuals of each host species, sampled respectively in 10 and 11 trap sites. Twenty parasite taxa were recorded, and the majority were nematodes. Between-host species comparisons showed that helminth communities were slightly more diversified in M. natalensis. Many parasite species were found in both Mastomys. However, various helminth taxa varied in frequency and abundance between host species. Within each host species, helminth diversity, prevalence and/or abundance of some parasites were correlated with habitat or host population factors that may influence parasite life-cycles, such as village structure, or the presence/absence of a pool. Our results suggest that habitat characteristics have a strong impact on helminth community structure.

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