The giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is the most iconic endangered species in the world, but there is little information about the spatial and temporal distribution of parasites in the wild giant panda population. In total, 193 fecal samples from giant pandas in the Foping National Nature Reserve, People's Republic of China, were analyzed for parasite eggs using a modification of the McMaster technique. The morphology and size of Baylisascaris schroederi eggs were observed under an optical microscope. The prevalence and intensity of B. schroederi infection during the sampling year 2012 were 52.3% (101/193) and 89 eggs/g of feces, respectively, among giant pandas in this population. The prevalence of B. schroederi in the pandas varied during different months of the year, from 7% to 100%, and the prevalences in spring, summer, autumn, and winter were 71, 77, 23, and 18%, respectively. The prevalence was not significantly different between giant pandas that ate two different types of bamboo, but the intensity of infection was higher in the group eating Arundinaria fargesii (P=0.043). Altitude, temperature, and dew point were correlated with the infection intensity (r=−0.224, P<0.001; r=0.328, P<0.001; r=0.328, P=0.028, respectively). There was no correlation between infection intensity and distance to rivers. This study provides a better understanding of B. schroederi prevalence among the wild giant pandas in Foping National Nature, China.
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Vol. 53 • No. 4