Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Environmental Science and Policy

Major Professor

Melissa Grigione, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Robert Brinkman, Ph.D.


Hymenolepis spp, Ascaris spp, Balantidium coli, Blastocystis spp, Entamoeba histolytica


Coyotes (Canis latrans) have inhabited Florida (USA) since the 1960s and are currently found throughout the state. The purpose of the present study was to obtain information on enteric parasites and diet of Florida coyotes from two different habitat types. Seasonal variation in diet was also examined. Fresh coyote fecal samples were collected from protected and urban habitats in Pinellas County, Florida (USA; 27°54' n, 82°41'w) from may 2005 to march 2007. A standard fecal flotation examination and formalin-ethyl acetate sedimentation were utilized on fecal samples collected from the protected (n=40) and urban (n=50) habitats. Five novel (newly documented) parasites of coyotes were discovered; one cestode (Hymenolepis spp.), one nematode (Ascaris spp.), and three protozoa (Balantidium coli, Blastocystis spp., and Entamoeba histolytica).

Novel parasites of Florida coyotes were also discovered two cestodes (diphyllobothrium latum and dipylidium caninum), two nematodes (toxocara canis and uncinaria stenocephala), one trematode (paragonimus spp.), and four protozoa (cryptosporidium spp., giardia canis, isospora spp., and sarcocystis cruzi). One cestode (Taenia spp.), three nematodes (Ancylostoma caninum, Physaloptera spp., and Trichurus vulpis), and one trematode (Alaria spp.) were also recovered, all of which have previously been documented in Florida coyotes. Diet items were identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level by gross morphological characteristics and medullary configurations of dorsal guard hairs. A poisson regression was utilized to determine the relation between diet items and habitat, season, and interaction.

In the protected habitat (n=49), vegetative matter (96%), Insecta (53%), and Rodentia (45%) were recovered most often, as opposed to berries (56%) and Lagomorpha (32%) in the urban habitats (n=71). Overall, vegetative matter, berries, and Lagomorpha were recovered most often from Florida coyote fecal samples. Odocoileus virginianus, Lagomorpha, and berries varied the most between wet and dry seasons. It is suggested that Florida coyotes are more susceptible to reinfection by novel parasites because of their rapid range expansion and lack of acquired immunity. Rapid habitat loss in Florida (i.e., urbanization) lowers survival of adult coyotes, increases the probability of transmission of disease between wild and domestic canids, and alters the diet of coyotes by lowering biological diversity of available prey items.