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The anthropogenic environment lessens the intensity and prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in Balinese long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis)


The distribution of wildlife parasites in a landscape is intimately tied to the spatial distribution of hosts. In parasite species, including many gastrointestinal parasites, with obligate or common environmental life stages, the dynamics of the parasite can also be strongly affected by geophysical components of the environment. This is especially salient in host species, for example humans and macaques, which thrive across a wide variety of habitat types and quality and so are exposed to a wealth of environmentally resilient parasites. Here, we examine the effect of environmental and anthropogenic components of the landscape on the prevalence, intensity, and species diversity of gastrointestinal parasites across a metapopulation of long-tailed macaques on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Using principal-components analysis, we identified significant interaction effects between specific environmental and anthropogenic components of the landscape, parsing the Balinese landscape into anthropogenic (PC1), mixed environment (PC2), and non-anthropogenic (PC3) components. Further, we determined that the anthropogenic environment can mitigate the prevalence and intensity of specific gut parasites and the intensity of the overall community of gut parasites, but that non-anthropogenically driven landscape components have no significant effect in increasing or reducing the intensity or prevalence of the community of gut parasites in Balinese macaques.