Gastrointestinal nematodes, DNA barcoding, ITS-2 DNA, Nested PCR, Cheetah, Ungulates, Host habitat overlay, Nematodes-South Africa, Parasites-South Africa, Biodiversity, DNA-Analysis, Parasitoids-Hosts
In this study, I investigated the diversity of parasites found in cheetah and wild ungulates in South Africa in collaboration with the Samara Private Game Reserve in Graaff Reinet, South Africa. Scat samples were collected over a period of two months, from September November, 2014, and DNA was extracted on the preserve for gastrointestinal nematode analysis. Wildlife was tracked using radio telemetry, tracks, and sign, while habitat and host distribution were documented. The aim was to determine the community composition of gastrointestinal nematodes in the wildlife hosts through molecular identification and to examine the role of host habitat preference, geographical distribution and spatial overlap on parasite composition and transmission. Eleven gastrointestinal nematodes were identified to the species level and five were identified to the genus level. Two common parasites were found in two different cases of host spatial overlap, while one parasite was found in two host populations that do not share the same habitat. These are the first steps toward understanding the impacts of parasitic infection on host fitness and population dynamics that may contribute to the management and conservation of African wildlife.
Bird, Chalis J., "The biodiversity of gastrointestinal nematodes in South African wildlife" (2016). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.