Parasites of wild howlers (Alouatta spp.)
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A literature review of howler parasites provides the basis for an overview of the ecological significance of parasite surveys in primates. Within this framework, we have added insights into the interactions between primate hosts and their parasites from a long-term study in Costa Rica. We collected fecal samples from mantled howlers (Alouatta palliata) over a 9-year period (19861994 inclusive) and analyzed them for parasite eggs, larvae, cysts, and oocysts. We found many misperceptions inherent in the typical methodology of primate parasite surveys and in the reporting of the findings. Our work in Costa Rica suggests that a snapshot effect occurs with most surveys. A static view does not reflect the dynamic and changing ecological interaction between host and parasite. We describe some problems with parasite data analyses that emphasize the need for long-term longitudinal surveys in wild primate groups.
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Professor Emeritus of Evolutionary Anthropology
Primate ecology and social organization: the interaction between feeding patterns and social structure; evolutionary development of optimal group size and composition; factors affecting short and long-term demographic changes in stable groups; primate use of regenerating forests.