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Parasitic fauna of Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber) in Sweden (1997–1998)

Per-Arne Åhlen, , Margareta Stéen
Published: 2 June 2021

Abstract: Background The parasitic fauna of beavers (Castor fiber and C. canadensis) has been well studied in many parts of their respective areas of distribution. In Scandinavia there have, however, been limited investigations conducted on the parasites of beavers in recent times. The present study is the first quantitative survey of parasites on beavers living in Sweden and elsewhere in Scandinavia. We investigated the parasitic fauna of the Eurasian beaver (C. fiber) in a North–South gradient in Sweden. The aim of the study was to investigate parasite distribution and prevalence in particular, related to average yearly air temperature and different age groups of beavers. A total of 30 beavers were sampled at eight localities, spanning a 720 km North–South gradient during the springs of 1997 and 1998. Results Five parasite taxa were identified. Four of these were present in all of the examined beavers, Stichorchis subtriquetrus (trematode), Travassosius rufus (nematode), Platypsyllus castoris (coleopteran), and Schizocarpus spp. (arachnid). A higher number of new infections of S. subtriquetrus, and more adults of T. rufus, were seen in beavers in southern Sweden where temperatures are higher. One-year old beavers had a higher infestation of S. subtriquetrus, but not of T. rufus, than older individuals. Conclusions The parasite fauna of Swedish beavers mirrored the impoverished parasite fauna of the original Norwegian population, and the high prevalence of parasites could be due to low major histocompatibility complex (MHC) polymorphism. Young beavers had a higher load of trematodes, probably depending on behavioural and ecological factors. Warmer temperatures in southern localities likely contributed to increased endoparasite loads.
Keywords: beavers / Sweden / parasite fauna / subtriquetrus / rufus / load / Castor / South

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