Ecology of parasites in northern canids: impacts of age, sex, behavior, life history, and diet
Friesen, Olwyn C.
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Host behavior, age, sex, diet, and condition, as well as variation in parasite specificity, drive variation in parasite infection, and ultimately determine the host parasite community. The objectives of this thesis were to 1) examine intraspecific variation in arctic fox parasites, 2) determine relationships between diet and parasites in sympatric arctic and red fox, and 3) compare wolf parasites and diet. Male arctic fox had more cestodes than females and juveniles had more nematodes than adults, likely due to diet and exposure. Red fox carried fewer parasites than arctic fox, likely due to diet, evolved resistance behaviors and higher immune investment, but diet affected cestode abundance in both species. Wolves that ate more white-tailed deer had more cestodes, suggesting increasing deer populations could enhance parasite transmission to moose. However, body condition was unaffected by parasites, suggesting northern canids may have not reached a threshold of infection.