In this study, I explored the interactions among host diet, nutritional status and gastrointestinal parasitism in wild bovids by examining temporal patterns of nematode faecal egg shedding in species with different diet types during a drought and non-drought year. Study species included three grass and roughage feeders (buffalo, hartebeest, waterbuck), four mixed or intermediate feeders (eland, Grant's gazelle, impala, Thomson's gazelle) and two concentrate selectors (dik-dik, klipspringer). Six out of the nine focal species had higher mean faecal egg counts in the drought year compared to the normal year, and over the course of the dry year, monthly faecal egg counts were correlated with drought intensity in four species with low-quality diets, but no such relationship was found for species with high-quality diets. Comparisons of dietary crude protein and faecal egg count in impala showed that during the dry season, individuals with high faecal egg counts (???1550 eggs/g of faeces) had significantly lower crude protein levels than individuals with low (0-500 eggs/g) or moderate (550-1500 eggs/g) egg counts. These results suggest that under drought conditions, species unable to maintain adequate nutrition, mainly low-quality feeders, are less able to cope with gastrointestinal parasite infections. In particular, during dry periods, reduced protein intake seems to be associated with declining resilience and resistance to infection. ?? 2003 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Interactions among host diet, nutritional status and gastrointestinal parasite infection in wild bovids