We investigated the prevalence of Toxoplasma gondii in 2011–15 to assess its potential threat on the endangered Amargosa vole (Microtus californicus scirpensis) in California, US. Surveillance was simultaneously performed on populations of syntopic rodent species. We detected antibodies to T. gondii in sera from 10.5% of 135 wild-caught Amargosa voles; 8% of 95 blood samples were PCR-positive for the T. gondii B1 gene, and 5.0% of 140 sympatric rodent brain samples were PCR-positive. Exposure to T. gondii did not change the probability that an animal would be recaptured in the field study. Behavioral response to domestic cat (Felis catus) and bobcat (Lynx rufus) urine was evaluated in five nonendangered Owens Valley voles (Microtus californicus vallicola) as surrogates for Amargosa voles and seven uninfected controls. Voles showed mild attraction to mouse urine and had neutral reactions to domestic cat urine whether or not infected. Time spent near bobcat urine was approximately twice as high in infected than in uninfected voles (although not statistically significant). The presence of T. gondii in wild Amargosa vole and sympatric rodent populations may hinder the endangered Amargosa vole population’s ability to recover in the wild.
- Amargosa vole
- Microtus californicus
- Toxoplasma gondii
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics