“Spider Monkey Cotton”: Bridging Waiwai and Scientific Ontologies to Characterize Spider Monkey (Ateles paniscus) Filariasis in the Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area, Guyana

Christopher A. Shaffer, Marissa S. Milstein, Laramie L. Lindsey, Tiffany M Wolf, Philip Suse, Elisha Marawanaru, Evan J Kipp, Tyler J Garwood, Dominic A Travis, Karen A. Terio, Peter Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Zoonotic disease risk is greatly influenced by cultural practices and belief systems. Yet, few studies have investigated how different ways of knowing are commensurate with one another in the context of zoonotic disease. By stressing methodological pluralism and explicitly challenging the nature-culture dichotomy, an ethnoprimatological approach is particularly well suited to bridging different ontologies for understanding zoonotic transmission. We seek to integrate molecular phylogenetics, histopathology, and ethnography to characterize a filarial nematode found within the abdominal cavity of spider monkeys (Ateles paniscus). The filarid is recognized as “spider monkey cotton” by Indigenous Waiwai in the Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area, Guyana. Ethnographic data revealed that the Waiwai perceive of “spider monkey cotton” as a normal characteristic within the “spider monkey person.” Furthermore, the Waiwai indicated that “cotton” was ubiquitous with spider monkeys and is not understood to be infectious nor zoonotic. This distinction is in contrast to other internal parasites found within spider monkeys that the Waiwai believe cause disease in both monkeys and humans. Our morphological and molecular characterization support the classification of the filarid as Dipetalonema caudispina, a minimally studied, nonzoonotic parasite. While this identification contrasts with Waiwai understanding of the filarid as a component of the spider monkey itself, the ubiquity of the filarid in spider monkeys in the region and its nonzoonotic nature suggest scientific knowledge and Waiwai ontology are commensurate. More broadly, this work highlights the importance of integrating multiple knowledge systems and leveraging advanced genomics to better understand and prevent emerging zoonotic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-272
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Volume43
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for granting us permission to conduct this research. We are grateful to Christina Valeri for helping us obtain research permits and Suzanne Stone for helping conduct laboratory work. We thank the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for storing the genetic data. Funding was provided by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, National Geographic Society, University of Minnesota Center for Animal Health and Food Safety Veterinary Pioneers in Public Health Research Fund, University of Minnesota Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Student Travel Scholarship, University of Minnesota Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, a Center for Animal Health and Food Safety Consortium on One Medicine One Science (COMOS) Seed Grant?and startup funds awarded to PAL through the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension, and Technology Transfer Program at the University of Minnesota. We thank Erin Riley for her insightful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. We also thank Carolyn Jost Robinson and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that considerably improved this manuscript. We are sincerely grateful to the Waiwai of Masakenari Village particularly, Paul Chekema, Dolandea Suse, Charakura Yukuma, Peyu Yukuma, and Romel Shoni, for permitting us to conduct this study and welcoming us into their lives.

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for granting us permission to conduct this research. We are grateful to Christina Valeri for helping us obtain research permits and Suzanne Stone for helping conduct laboratory work. We thank the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute for storing the genetic data. Funding was provided by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, National Geographic Society, University of Minnesota Center for Animal Health and Food Safety Veterinary Pioneers in Public Health Research Fund, University of Minnesota Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Student Travel Scholarship, University of Minnesota Center for Global Health and Social Responsibility, a Center for Animal Health and Food Safety Consortium on One Medicine One Science (COMOS) Seed Grant and startup funds awarded to PAL through the Agricultural Research, Education, Extension, and Technology Transfer Program at the University of Minnesota. We thank Erin Riley for her insightful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. We also thank Carolyn Jost Robinson and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments that considerably improved this manuscript. We are sincerely grateful to the Waiwai of Masakenari Village particularly, Paul Chekema, Dolandea Suse, Charakura Yukuma, Peyu Yukuma, and Romel Shoni, for permitting us to conduct this study and welcoming us into their lives.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Keywords

  • Dipetalonema
  • Ethnoprimatology
  • Histopathology
  • Local ecological knowledge
  • Phylogenetics
  • Wild meat

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