Bacterial and parasitic microbiome of mantled howler monkeys: interactions and implications of human disturbance
Buret, Andre G.
AuthorMacfarland, Colin Evan
Committee MemberKutz, Susan J.
Pavelka, Mary Susan
Next generation sequencing
Sector Santa Rosa
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome plays a significant role in contributing to the digestive health of the host. The community of bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms that make up the GI microbiome are known to change in response to external and internal factors including diet, stress, infection, and other environmental conditions. GI parasites are typically harmful organisms that affect hosts through triggering inflammatory response, reducing nutrient availability, and change mutualistic bacterial communities in the gut. However, they have been found to benefit the host in some circumstances. For example, helminthic parasites may have a role protecting the host from chronic inflammation caused by pathogenic bacteria or inflammatory bowel disease. In this thesis, I study the gut bacteria and parasites of populations of mantled howler monkeys (Alouatta palliata) in northwestern Costa Rica. I examine the extent to which the bacterial microbiome of howler monkeys is different in the presence of infection by helminths, and if howlers living in areas of anthropogenic habitat fragmentation have observable differences in the bacterial microbiome or helminth parasites. I used coprological examination of fecal flotations to assess parasitism, and 16S high-throughput sequencing to assess bacterial abundances. I found evidence of several helminth taxa infecting these howlers, including from the genera Controrchis, Strongyloides, Enterobius, and an unidentified Trematode. Howler monkeys infected with helminth parasites did not show a significantly different bacterial diversity; however, helminth-positive howlers have significant differences in relative abundances of Clostridiales and Bacteroidales bacteria. Furthermore, I found that howlers living in areas with anthropogenic habitat fragmentation had significantly lower diversity of gastrointestinal bacteria than howlers living in continuous forest. Lastly, I found that the howler populations within Sector Santa Rosa had a higher density of parasite infection, compared to those living in anthropogenically fragmented habitats. My research on the gastrointestinal and parasite microbiome of howlers provides new insights into the health and ecology of wild primates; further research that compares phenomena occurring in human populations and non-human primates is likely to be fruitful. My work provides new data on the impacts of habitat fragmentation that can inform primate conservation efforts, health monitoring efforts, and management decisions.
CitationMacfarland, C. E. (2021). Bacterial and parasitic microbiome of mantled howler monkeys: interactions and implications of human disturbance (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB.
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