Anthelmintic Treatment Does Not Change Foraging Strategies of Female Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Macropus giganteus
AuthorCripps, JK; Martin, JK; Coulson, G
Source TitlePLoS One
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
AffiliationSchool of BioSciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsCripps, J. K., Martin, J. K. & Coulson, G. (2016). Anthelmintic Treatment Does Not Change Foraging Strategies of Female Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Macropus giganteus. PLOS ONE, 11 (1), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147384.
Access StatusOpen Access
Large mammalian herbivores are commonly infected with gastrointestinal helminths. Heavily parasitised hosts are likely to have increased nutritional requirements and would be predicted to increase their food intake to compensate for costs of being parasitised, but experimental tests of the impacts of these parasites on the foraging efficiency of hosts are lacking, particularly in free-ranging wildlife. We conducted a field experiment on a population of free-ranging eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) to test this prediction, removing nematodes from one group of adult females using an anthelmintic treatment. We then carried out observations before and following treatment to assess the influence of parasites on foraging behaviour. Contrary to our predictions, the manipulation of parasite burdens did not result in changes in any of the key foraging variables we measured. Our results suggest that despite carrying large burdens of gastrointestinal parasites, the foraging strategy of female kangaroos is likely be driven by factors unrelated to parasitism, and that kangaroos in high nutritional environments may be able acquire sufficient nutrients to offset the costs of parasitism. We conclude that the drivers of forage intake likely differ between domesticated and free-ranging herbivores, and that free-ranging hosts are likely more resilient to parasitism.
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