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Int J Parasitol. 2010 Sep;40(11):1277-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2010.03.012. Epub 2010 Apr 18.

Introduced Siberian chipmunks are more heavily infested by ixodid ticks than are native bank voles in a suburban forest in France.

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Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Département Ecologie et Gestion de la Biodiversité, UMR 7204 CERSP, MNHN-CNRS-P6, 61 rue Buffon, CP 53, 75231 Paris cedex 05, France.


By serving as hosts for native vectors, introduced species can surpass native hosts in their role as major reservoirs of local pathogens. During a 4-year longitudinal study, we investigated factors that affected infestation by ixodid ticks on both introduced Siberian chipmunks Tamias sibiricus barberi and native bank voles Myodes glareolus in a suburban forest (Forêt de Sénart, Ile-de-France). Ticks were counted on adult bank voles and on adult and young chipmunks using regular monthly trapping sessions, and questing ticks were quantified by dragging. At the summer peak of questing Ixodes ricinus availability, the average tick load was 27-69 times greater on adult chipmunks than on adult voles, while average biomass per hectare of chipmunks and voles were similar. In adult chipmunks, individual effects significantly explained 31% and 24% of the total variance of tick larvae and nymph burdens, respectively. Male adult chipmunks harboured significantly more larvae and nymphs than adult females, and than juveniles born in spring and in summer. The higher tick loads, and more specifically the ratio of nymphs over larvae, observed in chipmunks may be caused by a higher predisposition--both in terms of susceptibility and exposure--to questing ticks. Tick burdens were also related to habitat and seasonal variation in age- and sex-related space use by both rodents. Introduced chipmunks may thus have an important role in the dynamics of local vector-borne pathogens compared with native reservoir hosts such as bank voles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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