Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Una comparación de las cargas de hemoparásitos entre los murciélagos (F: Phyllostomidae) de los diferentes gremios de alimentación en San Luis, Costa Rica


Rachael Zacks



Download Full Text (132 KB)

Publication Date

November 2008


Bat hemoparasite studies have focused on bats as vectors for viruses that cause human diseases such as rabies, Ebola, and Henipavirus, while ectoparastite studies have looked at a broad range of ecological and abiotic factors that influence ectoparasite prevalence including age, sex, roosting ecology, and habitat. Yet diet had been largely ignored in both hemoparasite and ectoparasite studies. In this study, I looked at diet as a possible factor in hemoparasite load and also looked at the relationships between hemoparasites, health (with weight as a proxy), and ectoparasites. Four guilds were compared, sanguinivores, omnivores, frugivores, and nectarivores, with an overall sample size of 27 bats in San Luis, Costa Rica. I found differences in hemoparasite loads between guilds (Chi square test, p = 0.0026, x2 = 16.295, df = 4) and that bats with ectoparasites were more likely to have a small number of hemoparasites (Chi square test, p= 0.0004, x2 = 18.104, df = 3). Interesting facets to the study included the observation that frugivorous bats had the highest hemoparasite loads, including hemoparasites from all three categories studied (Plasmodium, Babesia, and unknown), and nectarivores had no hemoparasites but the highest percentage of ectoparasites. Interspecific competition between ectoparasites and hemoparasites, roosting ecology of the most common fruit bat, Artibeus toltecus, and coevolved immune signaling molecules may explain these new trends. Overall, the study introduced diet as a possible factor in hemoparasite load due to diet differences altering blood proteins that could promote hemoparasite immunity, but sample size limits the conclusiveness of the study. Future studies should further analyze these differences in the blood and include a broad sample size for each feeding guild, for the results could show the effect of diet on health, both in bats and humans.


En este estudio, mire la dieta como un posible factor para explicar la carga de hemoparásitos y su relación con la salud y los ectoparásitos.


Bats, Bats--Parasites, CIEE Fall 2008

Palabras claves

Murciélagos, Murciélagos--Parásitos, CIEE Otoño 2008


10 pages

Geographic Location

San Luis (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





A comparison of hemoparasite loads between bats (F: Phyllostomidae) of different feeding guilds in San Luis, Costa Rica, November 2008



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