Effect of Translocation on Host Diet and Parasite Egg Burden: A Study of the European Bison (Bison bonasus)

Christinna Herskind*, Heidi Huus Petersen, Cino Pertoldi, Stine Karstenskov Østergaard, Marta Kołodziej-Soboci ́nska, Wojciech Soboci ́nski, Małgorzata Tokarska, Trine Hammer Jensen*

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Abstract

For the purpose of nature management and species conservation, European bison (Bison bonasus) are being increasingly reintroduced into nature reserves across Europe. The aim of this study was to investigate European bison’s adaptability to new areas through the study of their parasite-EPG (eggs per gram feces) and dietary diversity during twelve months after translocation. We compared the parasite-EPG from introduced European bison in Lille Vildmose, Denmark, with the parasite-EPG from populations from Bornholm, Denmark, and Białowieża Forest, Poland. From March 2021 to February 2022, fecal samples were collected from three populations. Samples from Lille Vildmose were examined through flotation, sedimentation, the Baermann technique, and nanopore sequencing. Fecal samples from Bornholm and Białowieża were examined through flotation and sedimentation. Nanopore sequencing of DNA from 63 European bison’s fecal samples collected during March–September in Lille Vildmose identified 8 species of nematodes within the digestive tract of the European bison, with Haemonchus contortus being the most frequently observed. In Lille Vildmose, a significantly higher excretion of nematode-EPG was observed during the summer period than in the spring, autumn, and winter. In addition, monthly differences in the excretion of nematode eggs were found, with this being significantly higher in June than in the months during autumn and winter (October–February). Significant differences in the nematode-EPG were only found between the excretion of nematode eggs in Białowieża Forest when compared to that of Lille Vildmose, with significantly higher excretion in Lille Vildmose (October–November). The results indicate that the development rates for nematodes may be affected by changes in temperature, with increasing temperatures speeding up their development time. Independent of this study design, wildlife vets together with the gamekeepers managing the herd found it necessary to treat the herd with antiparasitics for practical and animal welfare reasons in relation to translocation. Furthermore, 79 plant taxa were identified in the diet of the European bison. The broadest diet was observed in March suggesting that the European bison quickly adapted to their new habitat. The results suggest a seasonal shift in their diet, with this being most apparent from March to April.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer680
TidsskriftBiology
Vol/bind12
Udgave nummer5
ISSN2079-7737
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 4 maj 2023

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