Data from: Pythons, parasites and pests: anthropogenic impacts on Sarcocystis (Sarcocystidae) transmission in a multi-host system
Devan-Song, Anne et al. (2017), Data from: Pythons, parasites and pests: anthropogenic impacts on Sarcocystis (Sarcocystidae) transmission in a multi-host system, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8j41r
Parasites are essential components of ecosystems and can be instrumental in maintaining host diversity and populations; however, their role in trophic interactions has often been overlooked. Three apicomplexan parasite species of Sarcocystis (S. singaporensis, S. zamani, and S. villivillosi) use the reticulated python as their definitive hosts and several species within the Rattus genus as intermediate hosts, and they form a system useful for studying interactions between host–parasite and predator–prey relationships, as well as anthropogenic impacts on parasite transmission. Based on predictions from a 1998 survey, which detected an inverse relationship between urban development and Sarcocystis infection in Rattus, we tested the hypothesis that Sarcocystis transmission in Singapore will decrease over time due to anthropogenic activities. Despite a large proportion of the reticulated python diet consisting of Rattus species at all sizes of pythons, Sarcocystis infection rates decreased from 1998 to 2010. Pythons found in industrial areas had lower Sarcocystis infection rates, particularly in the western industrial area of Singapore Island. Average python size also decreased, with implications that we predict may disrupt host–parasite relationships. Anthropogenic activities such as habitat modification, fragmentation, and systematic removal and translocation of pythons have negative impacts on Sarcocystis transmission in Singapore, which in turn may augment pest rat populations. Trends observed may ultimately have negative impacts on human health and biodiversity in the region.