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Keywords:

  • intestinal parasites;
  • chimpanzee;
  • parasite richness;
  • ecological parasitology

Abstract

Numerous intestinal parasites identified in populations of wild nonhuman primates can be pathogenic to humans. Furthermore, nonhuman primates are susceptible to a variety of human pathogens. Because of increasing human encroachment into previously nonimpacted forests, and the potential for disease transmission between human and nonhuman primate populations, further detailed investigations of primate ecological parasitology are warranted. For meaningful comparisons to be made, it is important for methods to be standardized across study sites. One aspect of methodological standardization is providing reliable estimates of parasite prevalence and knowing how many samples are needed to adequately estimate an individual's parasite prevalence. In this study the parasitic fauna of 37 adult, adolescent, and juvenile male chimpanzees from the Ngogo group, Kibale National Park, Uganda, were assessed from 121 fecal samples collected over a 3-month period. Twelve taxa of intestinal species (five helminth and seven protozoan) were recovered from the samples. The four most prevalent species were Troglodytella abrassarti (97.3%), Oesophagostomum sp. (81.1%), Strongyloides sp. (83.8%), and Entamoeba chattoni (70.3%). No one species was found in all samples from any one animal, and Troglodytella abrassarti, the most common intestinal organism, was found in all of the serial samples of only 69.4% of the chimpanzees. The cumulative species richness for individuals significantly increased for every sequential sample (up to three to four samples) taken per animal during this study. The results indicate that to accurately diagnose total intestinal infection and evaluate group prevalence, three to four sequential samples from each individual must be collected on nonconsecutive days. This conclusion applies only to short study periods in which possible seasonal effects are not taken into consideration. Validation of these results at different study sites in different regions with different climatic patterns is needed. Am. J. Primatol. 65:167–179, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.