Gastrointestinal helminths of wild Humboldt penguins Spheniscus humboldti (Meyen, 1834) from the south-central coast of Chile
ABSTRACT The study of parasitism in penguins is relevant because it offers information on the biology and ecology of this host. This study reports the parasitism of 156 specimens of Spheniscus humboldti rescued from beaches of the south-central coast of Chile, between January 2006 and June 2015, describing their potential forms of transmission and pathogenicity. The parasitic infection was determined by coproparasitic methods in live specimens and by necropsy in dead penguins. The gastrointestinal helminths Tetrabothrius eudyptidis (Lönnberg, 1896), Cardiocephaloides physalis (Lutz, 1926), Contracaecum pelagicum (Johnston & Mawson, 1942) and Cosmocephalus obvelatus (Creplin, 1825) were identified by both methods. Parasitism was observed in 29.57% of live specimens and 51.76% of necropsied birds. All the parasites identified corresponded to genera already informed in S. humboldti. The richness of the S. humboldti parasitic fauna was lower than that reported for other species of penguins. The results demonstrate the participation of S. humboldti as a definitive host in the life cycles of the parasites reported in this study. Being S. humboldti a vulnerable species, it is necessary to continue with parasitological studies in this penguin to clarify the role of parasites in the health of these birds.