Parasitology, Harold W. Manter Laboratory of


Date of this Version



Chapter 7 in Reptile Biodiversity (2012): Preparing Reptiles as Voucher Specimens. Foster & McDiarmid, eds. Published by the University of California-Davis.


U.S. government work.


Obtaining parasites from reptiles that are collected during biological diversity surveys or inventories is time consuming, and in the past such collections were rarely made (Gardner 1996). However, parasites and other symbionts are integral parts of the ecological characteristics of organisms and provide important information on biodiversity from the population level to the species level. For example, recent biogeographic analyses of the skinks, geckos, and anoles of some Oceanic Pacific Islands (Bertrand and Ineich 1986, 1987, 1989; Goldberg and Bursey 1991, 2000, 2002; Hanley et. al 1995; Goldberg et al. 2005) could not have been accomplished without parallel studies of the parasite/symbiont faunas that they host. The latter studies were possible only because the parasitic and symbiotic organisms had been properly collected and subsequently deposited in recognized museum collections where they were available for study. We strongly recommend that investigators sample the parasites and symbionts of reptiles whenever they are encountered.

Methods are outlined for collecting parasites that maximize the amount of morphological and molecular information available from each specimen obtained. The procedures are also designed to minimize the likelihood of anthropogenic host-transfers.

Includes sections on: collecting ectoparasites and ectosymbionts, collecting endoparasites and endosymbionts, recording data, and materials needed to collect parasites.