Effect of urban habitat use on parasitism in mammals: a meta-analysis.
Werner, CS; Nunn, CL
Rates of urbanization are increasing globally, with consequences for the dynamics of parasites and their wildlife hosts. A small subset of mammal species have the dietary and behavioural flexibility to survive in urban settings. The changes that characterize urban ecology-including landscape transformation, modified diets and shifts in community composition-can either increase or decrease susceptibility and exposure to parasites. We used a meta-analytic approach to systematically assess differences in endoparasitism between mammals in urban and non-urban habitats. Parasite prevalence estimates in matched urban and non-urban mammal populations from 33 species were compiled from 46 published studies, and an overall effect of urban habitation on parasitism was derived after controlling for study and parasite genus. Parasite life cycle type and host order were investigated as moderators of the effect sizes. We found that parasites with complex life cycles were less prevalent in urban carnivore and primate populations than in non-urban populations. However, we found no difference in urban and non-urban prevalence for parasites in rodent and marsupial hosts, or differences in prevalence for parasites with simple life cycles in any host taxa. Our findings therefore suggest the disruption of some parasite transmission cycles in the urban ecological community.