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Investigation of Parasite Loads in Intestinal Tracts of White-tailed Populations in Maryland

Honor Student Investigation of Parasite Loads in Intestinal Tracts of White-tailed Populations in Maryland

Department: Biology
Symposium Year: 2013
Student(s): Chris Cochran
Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Thomas Lambert, Dr. Karen Keller

 

Intestinal parasite loads can greatly impact an animal’s fitness resulting in lower reproductive output and even death.  Unfortunately, little is often known about the parasites infesting natural populations and even which parasites occur in what species or what areas is often unknown. This study examined macroscopic parasites present in the gastro-intestinal tracts of White-tailed (Odocoileus virginianus) collected in Maryland. Samples were collected through management hunts, hunter donations, and road kill. A protocol was developed that included examination of the stomach wall, elongation of intestines, and the lancing of the intestines. Of the 13 deer examined, only one doe, collected in Fair Hill Maryland, was found to have a species of Tapeworm ( Taenea sp.). Tapeworms do occasionally occur in white-tailed deer, but because white-tailed deer are herbivores, the presents of tapeworms is not as high as what they would be in carnivores due to the life cycle of the parasite. This low rate of parasite inflection is fairly typical of herbivore species such as white-tail, and can be taken as an indication of a relatively healthy deer herd here in Maryland.

 

 

 

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