Predictors of Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) Helminth Parasite Diversity in the Provinces of Spain  [2005]

Barbosa, A.M. Segovia, J.M. Vargas, J.M. Torres, J. et al.

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We analysed the viscera of 321 red foxes collected over the last 30 years in 34 of the 47 provinces of peninsular Spain, and identified their helminth parasites. We measured parasite diversity in each sampled province using four diversity indices: Species richness, Margalef's species richness index, Shannon's species diversity index, and inverse Simpson's index. In order to find geographical, environmental, and/or human-related predictors of fox parasite diversity, we recorded 45 variables related to topography, climate, lithology, habitat heterogeneity, land use, spatial situation, human activity, sampling effort, and fox presence probability (obtained after environmental modelling of fox distribution). We then performed a stepwise linear regression of each diversity index on these variables, to find a minimal subset of statistically significant variables that account for the variation in each diversity index. We found that most parasite diversity indices increase with the mean distance to urban centres, or in other words, foxes in more rural provinces have a more diverse helminth fauna. Sampling effort and fox presence probability (probably related to fox density) also appeared as conditioning variables for some indices, as well as soil permeability (related with water availability). We then extrapolated the models to predict these fox parasite diversity indices in non-sampled provinces and have a view of their geographical trends.

Other subjects

  • human influence
  • geographical trends
  • Diversity indices
  • variation partitioning

From the journal

Wildlife Biology in Practice

ISSN : 1646-2742