Localized deer absence leads to tick amplification

Sarah E. Perkins, Isabella Cattadori, Valentina Tagliapietra, Annapaola P. Rizzoli, Peter John Hudson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Deer support high tick intensities, perpetuating tick populations, but they do not support tick-borne pathogen transmission, so are dilution hosts. We test the hypothesis that absence of deer (loss of a dilution host) will result in either an increase or a reduction in tick density, and that the outcome is scale dependent. We use a complementary methodological approach starting with meta-analysis, followed up by a field experiment. Meta-analysis indicated that larger deer exclosures reduce questing (host-seeking) tick density, but as the exclosure becomes smaller (<2.5 ha) the questing tick density is increased (amplified). To determine the consequences for tick-borne pathogen transmission we carried out a field experiment, comparing the intensity of ticks that fed on hosts competent for tick-borne pathogen transmission (rodents) in two small (<1 ha) deer exclosures and their replicated controls. Intensity of larval ticks on rodents was not significantly different between treatments, but nymph intensity, the tick stage responsible for tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) transmission, was higher in deer exclosures. TBE seropositive rodents were found in a deer exclosure but not in the controls. We propose that localized absence of deer (loss of a dilution host) increases tick feeding on rodents, leading to the potential for tick-borne disease hotspots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1981-1986
Number of pages6
JournalEcology
Volume87
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

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tick
deer
ticks
amplification
rodents
rodent
tick-borne encephalitis
encephalitis
meta-analysis
dilution
pathogen
pathogens
tick-borne diseases
host seeking
nymphs

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Perkins, Sarah E. ; Cattadori, Isabella ; Tagliapietra, Valentina ; Rizzoli, Annapaola P. ; Hudson, Peter John. / Localized deer absence leads to tick amplification. In: Ecology. 2006 ; Vol. 87, No. 8. pp. 1981-1986.
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Localized deer absence leads to tick amplification. / Perkins, Sarah E.; Cattadori, Isabella; Tagliapietra, Valentina; Rizzoli, Annapaola P.; Hudson, Peter John.

In: Ecology, Vol. 87, No. 8, 01.01.2006, p. 1981-1986.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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