Non-invasive sampling in itatiaia national park, Brazil: wild mammal parasite detection.
Background Non-invasive sampling through faecal collection is one of the most cost-effective alternatives for monitoring of free-living wild mammals, as it provides information on animal taxonomy as well as the dynamics of the gastrointestinal parasites that potentially infect these animals. In this context, this study aimed to perform an epidemiological survey of gastrointestinal parasites using non-invasive faecal samples from carnivores and artiodactyls identified by stool macroscopy, guard hair morphology and DNA sequencing in Itatiaia National Park. Between 2017 and 2018, faeces from carnivores and artiodactyls were collected along trails in the park. The host species were identified through macroscopic and trichological examinations and molecular biology. To investigate the parasites, the Faust, Lutz and modified Ritchie and Sheather techniques and enzyme immunoassays to detect Cryptosporidium sp. antigens were used. Results A total of 244 stool samples were collected. The species identified were Chrysocyon brachyurus, Leopardus guttulus, Canis familiaris, Cerdocyon thous, Puma yagouaroundi, Leopardus pardalis, Puma concolor and Sus scrofa. There were 81.1% samples that were positive for parasites distributed mainly in the high part of the park. Helminths, especially eggs of the family Ascarididae, were more frequently detected in carnivore faeces (70.9%). Protozoa, especially Cryptosporidium sp., represented the highest frequency of infection in artiodactyl faeces (87.1%). This zoonotic protozoon was detected in eight mammalian species, including in a wild boar. High values of structural richness and Shannon and Simpson diversity indices were observed for the parasites, especially in the faeces of C. brachyurus. Significant differences in parasite diversity were observed between wild and domestic animals, such as C. brachyurus and C. familiaris, respectively, and between taxonomically distant species, such as C. brachyurus and S. scrofa. The highest values for parasite similarity were found among the species that frequented similar areas of the park, such as C. brachyurus and L. guttulus. Conclusions The animals and parasite infections were identified through the combination of three techniques. High frequency parasite structures were diagnosed. Zoonotic protozoa were found and mainly occurred in samples from introduced species.