We investigated the responses of endoparasites in red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi) to fire in a boreal forest ecosystem. Because fire affects the environmental conditions and biodiversity of the forest ecosystem, the life cycle of parasites may also be affected because of the absence of intermediate hosts in the environment. We hypothesized that the prevalence of endoparasites would be influenced by the parasites' life cycle and habitat characteristics (forest vs. burned). We found that prevalence of endoparasites was different between forested and burned habitats (χ2=37.49, P<0.001). Cestodes, nematodes, and coccidia showed different responses to habitat alteration (χ2=37.43, P<0.001). There was a higher prevalence of cestodes in forested (53.5%) than burned habitats (35.0%). However, there was higher prevalence of coccidia in burned (55.0%) than forested (42.9%) habitats. Furthermore, although prevalence of cestode infection was lower in burned than forested habitat, individuals in both habitats had similar intensities of cestodes. Our study showed that habitat can significantly affect the parasite communities, depending on specific parasite life cycles.
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Vol. 46 • No. 1