Title
Ecological factors that determine **Ixodes ricinus** tick burdens in the great tit (Parus major), an avian reservoir of **Borrelia burgdorferi** s.l. Ecological factors that determine **Ixodes ricinus** tick burdens in the great tit (Parus major), an avian reservoir of **Borrelia burgdorferi** s.l.
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
Oxford ,
Subject
Biology
Human medicine
Source (journal)
International journal for parasitology. - Oxford
Volume/pages
43(2013) :8 , p. 603-611
ISSN
0020-7519
ISI
000321233600001
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Although bird-tick systems affect the human risk of tick-borne diseases, very little is known about the ecological factors that shape the spatio-temporal variation of tick infestations in terrestrial songbirds. We present a risk model that explains the levels of infestation of Ixodes ricinus, the main vector of Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., during the breeding season of the great tit (Parus major), one of Europes most abundant avian reservoir hosts of B. burgdorferi s.l. Tit tick burden were modelled as a function of variables summarising vegetation, climate, proxies for mammal abundance and characteristics of individual birds and their nests. Tick loads were positively associated with the relative humidity prior to capture of the bird and the cover of bracken inside its territory. The number of cold winter days prior to the birds breeding season showed a negative association with tick loads. None of the proxies for mammal abundance correlated with tick loads. Tick loads decreased with age in female tits, whereas they increased with age in male tits. Tick burdens in the parental tits were positively associated with their brood size and negatively correlated with the average nestling body weight. Possible mechanisms include: how tit foraging influences tick encounter rates, host tick resistance mechanisms and the environmental conditions that simultaneously affect tick exposure risk and brood characteristics. We believe this study provides the first detailed insights into the ecological factors that shape tick burden in a terrestrial songbird.
E-info
https://repository.uantwerpen.be/docman/iruaauth/6562e9/c6a49cc55c9.pdf
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