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Faculty Publication: Associate Professor of Anthropology Maja Šešelj

March 26, 2021

Parasitic load in grey-bellied owl monkeys (Aotus lemurinus) living within city limits of Manizales, Colombia

Authors: Pamela Gonzalez Vanegas, Maja Šešelj, and William Cañon-Franco

Source: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2021, vol. 174, p. 40

Publication type: Meeting Abstract

Abstract: Anthropogenic activities including habitat fragmentation, urbanization, and pollution not only have direct adverse impacts on biodiversity, but also contribute to parasite transmission to and from wildlife. Given our close evolutionary relationship, primates are vulnerable to many of the same parasitic infections as humans. While there is a relative paucity of research into parasites affecting platyrrhines in general, there is even less research into parasites affecting the species of the genus Aotus, despite their wide geographic distribution across Central and South America. This is the first report of parasites affecting wild grey-bellied owl monkeys (Aotus lemurinus) in Manizales, Colombia. The monkeys live in a fragmented semi-arid, premontane forest trail encircling approximately two hectares of hilly terrain on the edge of a densely populated neighborhood. Out of 16 fecal samples, six (37.5%) were positive for at least one parasite; three of these showed evidence of multiple infections. The five identified parasite genera include protozoa Cryptosporidium (n=3) and Eimeria (n=1), and nematodes Trypanoxyuris  (n=2), Ancylostoma (n=1), and Physaloptera (n=1). Of these, Cryptosporidium, Physaloptera,  and Ancylostoma could have potentially been introduced into the owl monkey population from infected humans and/or household animals. Interestingly, only Trypanoxyuris has been previously reported in wild Aotus azarai azarai in Argentina and free-ranging Aotus nigriceps in Peru; Cryptosporidium was detected in captive Aotus nigriceps in Brazil. Further research is needed to elucidate the relative contributions of natural versus anthropogenic factors impacting parasite loads and transmission in the Colombian owl monkeys.

Department of Anthropology

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