Abstract

Black rats (Rattus rattus) and their stomach nematodes (Mastophorus muris) were historically introduced to islets at Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific Line Islands. To investigate patterns of parasitism, we trapped rats and quantified nematodes on 13 islets of various sizes and habitat types. Most rats were parasitized (59%) with an average of 12 worms per infected rat. Islet size did not greatly influence parasite population biology. Nematodes also did not appear to affect rat condition (weight to skull length). The only strong and consistent factor associated with the mean abundance of nematodes in rats was habitat (dominant cover and locally dominant plant species). Thus, nematodes were much more abundant in rats from sites dominated by coconut trees (Cocos nucifera). Coconut trees may also be an introduced species at Palmyra Atoll.

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