Parasite prevalence and richness in sympatric colobines: effects of host density.Am J Primatol. 2005 Oct; 67(2):259-66.AJ
Factors that influence proximity and the number and duration of contacts among individuals can influence parasite transmission among hosts, and thus parasite prevalence and species richness are expected to increase with increasing host density. To examine this prediction we took advantage of a unique situation. Following the clearing of a forest fragment that supported red colobus (Piliocolobus tephrosceles) and black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza), the animals moved into a neighboring fragment that we had been monitoring for a number of years and for which we had described the primate parasite community. After the animals immigrated into the fragment, the colobus populations more than doubled and colobus density became almost twice that found in Kibale National Park, Uganda. Despite this increase in host density, the richness of the parasite community did not increase. However, in both colobus species the prevalence of Trichuris sp., the only commonly occurring gastrointestinal parasite, increased. Over the next 5 years the prevalence and intensity of infection of Trichuris sp. in red colobus declined and their population numbers slowly increased. In contrast, the prevalence and intensity of infection of Trichuris sp. increased in black-and-white colobus and remained high following the immigration, and their population size declined. While Trichuris sp. infections are typically asymptomatic, we consider it a possibility that they contributed to the decline of the black-and-white colobus, and that the red colobus may be serving as a reservoir for Trichuris, thereby increasing the infection risk for black-and-white colobus.