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Parasites and the city: Characterizing the influence of urbanization on gastrointestinal parasite communities in Los Angeles area coyotes (Canis latrans)

  • Author(s): Tokuyama, Amanda Florence Natsuko
  • Advisor(s): Lloyd-Smith, James O.
  • et al.

Parasites are major players in structuring communities and regulating their host populations, making them integral parts of any ecosystem. However, little knowledge exists on how parasites contribute to the biomass and biodiversity of urban systems. In this study we map the presence of macro- and microparasites in coyotes (Canis latrans) in the Los Angeles area and explore the within-host co-occurrence patterns of the parasites identified in this region. This is the first study to characterize the parasite community and demonstrate the key impacts of urbanization on parasitism in southern California coyotes. We found that parasite presence is significantly influenced by urbanization measures, suggesting that parasites are absent from highly urbanized spaces due to differences in abiotic and biotic factors that govern the ecology of hosts and the survival of parasites. This work demonstrates the importance of studying parasites and emphasizes the insights they provide on the health of urban ecosystems.

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