Water choice as a counterstrategy to faecally transmitted disease: an experimental study in captive lemurs

Water choice as a counterstrategy to faecally transmitted disease: an experimental study... Many parasites and pathogens are transmitted via water, including through faecal contamination of water sources. Yet water is essential for survival, and some species gain nutritional and other benefits from coprophagy. We investigated how primates balance the risks of faecal pathogen transmission with potential benefits of faeces ingestion in their selection of water sources by conducting behavioural experiments with five species of lemurs (Family Lemuridae) in captivity. Subjects were given a choice between clean water and water ‘contaminated’ with disinfected faecal material, which contained cues associated with faecally transmitted parasites, but minimal risk. We found that lemurs exhibited strong preferences for the clean water. This pattern was supported even at low levels of faecal contamination and in species adapted to water-limited habitats, for which choosiness about water quality could present a dehydration risk. Our results strongly support the hypothesis that avoiding faecal contamination is important in water selection. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Behaviour Brill

Water choice as a counterstrategy to faecally transmitted disease: an experimental study in captive lemurs

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0005-7959
eISSN
1568-539X
D.O.I.
10.1163/1568539X-00003466
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Many parasites and pathogens are transmitted via water, including through faecal contamination of water sources. Yet water is essential for survival, and some species gain nutritional and other benefits from coprophagy. We investigated how primates balance the risks of faecal pathogen transmission with potential benefits of faeces ingestion in their selection of water sources by conducting behavioural experiments with five species of lemurs (Family Lemuridae) in captivity. Subjects were given a choice between clean water and water ‘contaminated’ with disinfected faecal material, which contained cues associated with faecally transmitted parasites, but minimal risk. We found that lemurs exhibited strong preferences for the clean water. This pattern was supported even at low levels of faecal contamination and in species adapted to water-limited habitats, for which choosiness about water quality could present a dehydration risk. Our results strongly support the hypothesis that avoiding faecal contamination is important in water selection.

Journal

BehaviourBrill

Published: Dec 31, 2017

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