Demographic and ecological effects on patterns of parasitism in eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Gombe National Park, Tanzania

Thomas R. Gillespie, Elizabeth V. Lonsdorf, Elizabeth P. Canfield, Derek J. Meyer, Yvonne Nadler, Jane Raphael, Anne E. Pusey, Joel Pond, John Pauley, Titus Mlengeya, Dominic A. Travis

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81 Scopus citations


From January 2006 to January 2008, we collected 1,045 fecal samples from 90 individually-recognized, free-ranging, eastern chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) inhabiting Gombe National Park, Tanzania to determine how patterns of parasitism are affected by demographic and ecological covariates. Seventeen parasite species were recovered, including eight nematodes (Oesophagostomum sp., Necator sp., Probstmayria gombensis, Strongyloides fulleborni, Ascaris sp., Trichuris sp., Abbreviata caucasica, and an unidentified strongyle), 1 cestode (Bertiella sp.), 1 trematode (Dicrocoeliidae), and 7 protozoa (Entamoeba coli, Entamoeba histolytica/dispar, Iodamoeba bütschlii, Troglodytella abrassarti, Troglocorys cava, Balantidium coli, and an unidentified protozoa). Significant differences were observed in interannual infection prevalence and parasite richness between 2006 and 2007. Intercommunity comparisons demonstrated higher prevalence of parasites for the Mitumba compared with Kasekela chimpanzee community. Prevalence of several parasites was strongly correlated with monthly rainfall patterns for both 2006 and 2007. Subadult chimpanzees had lower prevalence for most parasite species compared with adults in both years and also yielded a lower average parasite species richness. No significant differences were observed between males and females in prevalence in 2006. However, in 2007 the prevalence of S. fulleborni and I. bütschlii were higher in males than in females. Parasite prevalence and richness were substantially higher in this multiyear study compared with previous short-term studies of the gastrointestinal parasites of Gombe chimpanzees. This coupled with the significant interannual and interseasonal variation, demonstrated in this study, emphasizes the importance of multiyear monitoring with adequate sample size to effectively determine patterns of parasitism in wild primate populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-544
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • apes
  • gastrointestinal parasites
  • health
  • noninvasive analyses
  • zoonoses


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