Gastrointestinal parasites of a reintroduced semi-wild plains bison (Bison bison bison) herd: Examining effects of demographic variation, deworming treatments, and management strategy

Joshua D. Wiese, Andrew J. Caven, Dante S. Zarlenga, Christina L. Topliff, Clayton L. Kelling, Jacob Salter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bison (Bison spp) are being reintroduced into semi-wild, spatially constrained herds across North America and Europe. Herd managers are concerned about gastrointestinal (GI) nematode parasites as they care for the health of their bison. We examine how demographics, grazing location, herd management, and anthelmintic treatments affect the fecal egg counts (FECs) of GI nematodes within a reintroduced Plains bison (Bison bison bison) herd in the Great Plains. Our results suggest that younger bison (<2 years of age) experience higher GI parasite eggs/oocysts per gram (epg/opg) and that some taxa are more prevalent throughout different periods of a bison's early years. Demographic findings suggest that calf and yearling (0–2 yrs age) bison have the highest FECs and that these decline until reaching a low in peak adulthood and thereafter (x > 6 yrs of age). FECs of both Trichuris spp. and particularly Nematodirus spp. were much more abundant, relatively, during the first year of a bison's life. This pattern was also true of Moniezia spp. and Eimeria spp., however, strongyle-type spp. FECs appeared to peak in relative abundance during the second year of life. Our data also indicate that FECs are influenced by differences in land-use histories of pastures previously grazed by cattle or by the proportion of frequent flooding in different pastures. Treatment results suggest that fenbendazole may more effective than moxidectin at lowering FECs of bison over the long-term, and lasting effects of at least one administered anthelmintic treatment. Multiplex PCR assays revealed that American bison share GI nematodes with cattle including: Ostertagia spp., Haemonchus placei, Cooperia onchophora, and Oesophagostomum spp, but did not detect the presence Trichostrongylus columbriformis. Our results may have wider conservation implications for reintroduction efforts of American bison, as well as the endangered European bison (Bison bonasus).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-227
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Volume14
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Demographics
  • Gastrointestinal parasites
  • Management
  • Plains bison
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases

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