Faculty Advisor

Jimenez, Agustin


The Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) is centered on the 3,487-hectare tallgrass Konza Prairie in eastern Kansas. The area supports 11 common species of rodents, some of which are reservoirs of zoonotic microparasites, including etiological agents for babesiosis and Lyme disease. Furthermore, each of the rodent species harbors an array of helminths. No baseline inventories of helminths or microparasites have yet been performed through the tallgrass prairie ecoregion. We captured rodents using Sherman traps, processed them via standard museum methods, and examined them for nematodes. Necropsies were completed on the same day of capture and nematodes collected were fixed and preserved with ethanol. Cleared specimens allowed the characterization of nematodes infecting seven species of mice. These include Mastophorus cf. murisfound in the stomach of Reithrodontomys megalotis, Microtus ochrogaster, Peromyscus leucopus,and Sigmodon hispidus; Pterygodermatites parkerifrom the small intestine of Peromyscus leucopus; Syphacia cf. obvelatacollected in the large intestine of Microtus ochrogaster; Trichuris spp.found in the large intestine of Neotoma floridanaand Microtus ochrogaster, and finally Vexillata armandaefrom the small intestine of Chaetodipus hispidus. Mastophorus cf. murisand Syphacia cf. obvelataappear to be common parasites of voles and mice across North America, however our analyses suggest that these organisms are fairly divergent from specimens assigned to these taxa elsewhere across the Holarctic. These parasite biodiversity surveys provide a fundamental first step to understanding evolution, distribution, and pathogen dynamics across spatial and temporal scales.


Thanks to Dr. Andrew Hope of the Kansas State University Department of Biology for trapping the rodents and preserving our specimens for study, as well as everyone in the SIUC parasitology lab.