Biodiversity and systematics of endohelminths from the common vertebrates of Texas
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This proposed five year proposal is intended to be a continuation of Texas AgriLife Research/CRIS project TEX06946, and is based on the results of research completed thus far in the project. The first phase of this project was started in 1985 with the first 20 years of the project (1985 through 2005) being focused on surveying and cataloging the endohelminths of vertebrates in Texas, but emphasized the parasites of the white-tailed deer (especial those shared with livestock and other wildlife species) to develop a data base for Texas. Since that time, I have continued the survey of vertebrates resulting in some 34 publications (See Appendix 1 for publications since 2005 concerning biodiversity). The white-tailed deer aspect of the research most recently has been concentrated in the post oak savanna mainly around the major river basins for the Brazos, Little Brazos, Navasota and Trinity Rivers to determine: 1. If there is a crowding effect that promotes increased parasitism where deer congregate around feeders and food plots or where deer are sequestered in enclosures, in comparison to parasite levels in free-ranging deer; 2. If feral hogs, which are becoming established in areas of the range of white-tailed deer, have the potential to introduce endohelminthic species not previously found in white-tailed deer; and 3. Identify an experimental model system which could be used to examine the influence of parasitism on the fitness of vertebrate hosts like the white-tailed deer and serve as a basis for the development of effective control measures in free-ranging systems where parasites are shared between deer and other economically important hosts (i.e. livestock and/or other wildlife species). We have examined some 165 deer, over 200 feral hogs, and a number of other vertebrates from diverse geographic regions in the southeastern ecozone for parasites. The survey aspect of this study has allowed us to provide data on the distribution of the endohelminthic parasites of the white-tailed deer in Texas and supplement the existing surveys that have been carried out in the state. Generally, I have found that there was no significant differences in the population levels of common species of endohelminths between free-ranging deer, those either routinely visiting corn feeders and food plots, or those maintained in enclosures. The only parasite that we found, which was shared between white-tailed deer, and livestock and feral hogs was the giant liver fluke of mammals,Fascioloidesmagna(F.magna).Although I will continue to examine the common vertebrates that die in the care of animal rehabilitators, veterinarians and other licensed professionals in Texas, and to autopsy a limited number of hunter-killed white-tailed deer, the emphasis of the research will shift to the development of theF.magnaexperimental life cycle model..........