Diet quality and immunocompetence influence parasite load of roe deer in a fragmented landscape

Nora Navarro-Gonzalez, Hélène Verheyden, Hervé Hoste, Bruno Cargnelutti, Bruno Lourtet, Joel Merlet, Tanguy Daufresne, Santiago Lavín, A. J.Mark Hewison, Serge Morand, Emmanuel Serrano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The influence of landscape structure and host diet on parasite load of wildlife is still largely unknown. We studied a roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) population in a fragmented agricultural landscape in southern France to explore the relationship of gastrointestinal nematode load with spleen mass (to index immunocompetence), faecal nitrogen (to index diet quality), landscape structure and age of 33 hunt-harvested roe deer. Gastrointestinal worm counts were negatively related to faecal nitrogen and spleen mass, explaining respectively 24.7% and 9.2% of the observed variability in parasite load. Landscape structure did not appear to have a direct influence on gastrointestinal worm counts, but since animals from more open areas have a diet that is richer in nitrogen, its influence may be indirect. In conclusion, in the study area, the colonisation of the agricultural landscape does not seem to have increased the risk of gastrointestinal nematode parasitism for roe deer, possibly because access to high-quality food enhances immunocompetence. © Springer-Verlag 2010.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-645
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011

Keywords

  • Faecal nitrogen
  • Gastrointestinal nematodes
  • Landscape structure
  • Spleen
  • Ungulate

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