The Effects of Social Organization and Antiparasite Behavior on Parasite Transmission in African BovidsEPA Grant Number: U915814
Title: The Effects of Social Organization and Antiparasite Behavior on Parasite Transmission in African Bovids
Investigators: Enzenwa, Vanessa O.
Institution: Princeton University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Amount: $99,161
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2000) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Zoology , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences
The objectives of this research project are to: (1) establish whether a relationship exists between parasite load and two social traits likely to increase susceptibility to parasitism group size and territoriality by examining the degree of parasitism in species with varying social systems; and (2) assess the effectiveness of these antiparasite behaviors by examining the extent to which different species engage in behaviors that reduce exposure to parasite propagules.
This research project is being conducted in the Laikipia District of Kenya, and it includes 11 bovid species with differing social characteristics. First, to study the relationship between social structure and parasite load, I am measuring the intensity and prevalence of fecally dispersed nematodes and protozoa in host species with different social systems. Fecal sampling will occur on a monthly basis over a 1-year period, which also will allow me to examine the effects of climactic factors on parasite load. Second, to connect social structure to antiparasite behavior, I am quantifying the degree to which the different study species display selectivity in foraging and defecation. These two strategies have shown in domestic bovids to be effective in reducing infection by nematodes.
This research project will reveal whether wild herbivores rely on such behaviors to reduce parasitism.