Abstract

Bats are recognized as potential hosts of pathogens exploiting the food chain to reach them as definitive hosts. However, very little is known about their endoparasites, especially for Neotropical bats. In this study, we assessed the helminth fauna associated with 3 insectivorous bat species roosting in the same single hot cave in central Veracruz, México: Mormoops megalophylla, Pteronotus davyi, and Pteronotus personatus. During a period of 1 yr (April 2007–2008), 135 mormoopid bats in total were collected and examined for helminths. Six parasite species representing 3 types of intestinal helminths were found: 1 cestode Vampirolepis elongatus; 2 trematodes Maxbraunium tubiporum and Ochoterenatrema labda; and 3 nematodes Linustrongylus pteronoti, Molineidae gen. sp., and Capillaria sp. Overall, trematodes were the most abundant parasite group (72.4%), followed by nematodes (20.7%) and cestodes (6.9%). Species-accumulation curves suggest that the worms collected (n = 1,331) from these 6 parasite species comprise the helminth fauna associated with the 3 bat populations studied. The only species shared by the 3 bat species was Capillaria sp. Most (5/6) of the helminth species recorded use Lepidoptera and Diptera as intermediate hosts; therefore, diet is likely the main source of infection. Although insectivorous bats are considered dietary generalist species, the differences found in helminth diversity in these sympatric populations of closely related bat species, suggest that diet partitioning occurs in mormoopid bat communities. Helminths tend to exploit the food chain to reach their final hosts; therefore, studying these parasites can provide useful information to further understand the biology of bats.

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