Ecology of Physaloptera capensis (Nematoda : Spiruroidea) infecting the Springhare Pedetes capensis (Mammalia) in Botswana


  • Thomas M. Butynski

    1. Department of Wildlife, National Parks and Tourism, Gaborone, Botswana
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    • *New York Zoological Society, Center for Conservation and Wildlife Research, Bronx Zoo, Bronx, N.Y. 10460, U.S.A.


Incidence and intensity of the stomach nematode Physaloptera capensis in relation to the age, sex, reproductive status, physical condition, density and habitat of its host, the Springhare, were investigated in the Republic of Botswana (August 1971-August 1973). All data indicate that this nematode is a benign parasite of the Springhare. Infections were not randomly distributed within the Springhare population. Mean number of worms per Springhare was 83 and 34% of all Springhares were parasitized. Adults, females and lactating females showed significantly heavier infections than juveniles, males and non-lactating females, respectively. Infection was directly associated with the amount of grass cover in the Springhares' habitat but independent of the density and physical condition of Springhares. Possible causes of differences in rates of infection among Springhares of different age/reproductive classes and from populations of different density are mentioned. It is suggested that numbers of P. capensis may be regulated mainly by density-independent environmental factors operating upon rates of transmission.