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Int J Parasitol. 2010 Aug 1;40(9):1013-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2010.02.006. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

The role of deer as vehicles to move ticks, Ixodes ricinus, between contrasting habitats.

Author information

1
NEIKER-TECNALIA, Department of Animal Health, Bizkaia 48160, Spain. josefrancisco.ruiz@irec.csic.es

Abstract

In Europe the most important hosts maintaining Ixodes ricinus tick populations are deer. Therefore, excluding deer by fencing or culling are potential tick management tools. Here we test the hypothesis that deer act as vehicles for moving ticks between two distinct habitats: forest and open heather moorland. We utilised an ideal "natural experiment" whereby forests were either fenced or unfenced to prevent or allow deer to move between habitats. We aimed to test the hypothesis that deer cause a net movement of ticks from high tick density areas, i.e. forests, to low tick density areas, i.e. open moorland. We recorded I. ricinus and host abundance in 10 unfenced and seven fenced forests and their respective surrounding heather moorland. We found that fenced forests had fewer deer and fewer I. ricinus nymphs than unfenced forests. However, we found no evidence that fencing forests reduced I. ricinus abundance on adjacent heather moorland. Thus there was insufficient evidence for our hypothesis that deer cause a net movement of ticks from forest onto adjacent moorland. However, we found that deer abundance generally correlates with I. ricinus abundance. We conclude that fencing can be used as a tool to reduce ticks and disease risk in forests, but that fencing forests is unlikely to reduce ticks or disease risk on adjacent moorland. Instead, reducing deer numbers could be a potential tool to reduce tick abundance with implications for disease mitigation.

PMID:
20211625
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijpara.2010.02.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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