ABSTRACT

Parasitic helminths are an almost universal feature of vertebrate animals, but reptiles are among the hosts with the most depauperate parasite communities. Biological traits of reptiles are considered to be among the key reasons that explain low helminth diversity; therefore, insights from a wide range of reptile hosts are helpful to understanding the ecology of parasitic helminths. We analyzed helminth fauna in two lacertids, Psammodromus algirus and Psammodromus edwarsianus (Squamata: Lacertidae), and one skink, Chalcides bedriagai (Squamata: Scincidae), three common species of Mediterranean woodlands that differ in their ecological conditions and in lifestyles that are linked to habitat use. We examined a total of 102 P. algirus, 27 P. edwarsianus, and 23 C. bedriagai from mountain landscapes in eastern Iberia. We found three helminth species, the nematodes Parapharyngodon echinatus and Spauligodon sp., and the cestode Mesocestoides sp. We report new reptile hosts for two helminth species: the skink C. bedriagai for the nematode P. echinatus and the lizard Psammodromus algirus for the nematode Spauligodon sp. We also provide the second record of the larval forms of the cestode Mesocestoides sp. in the lizard P. edwarsianus from the Iberian Peninsula. Interestingly, prevalence of infection was much higher in the skink than it was in the two lacertid lizards. Therefore, a subterranean skink lifestyle may determine the incidence of helminth parasites when compared to the ground-dwelling lizard species. Similar to other reptile hosts, the helminth fauna of our focal lizard species was poor and mainly composed by Pharyngodonidae nematodes that are often detected in insectivorous reptiles.

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