Title
Adaptive timing of detachment in a tick parasitizing hole-nesting birds Adaptive timing of detachment in a tick parasitizing hole-nesting birds
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
London ,
Subject
Biology
Source (journal)
Parasitology. - London, 1908, currens
Volume/pages
139(2012) :2 , p. 264-270
ISSN
0031-1820
1469-8161
ISI
000299929800012
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
In non-permanent parasites with low intrinsic mobility such as ticks, dispersal is highly dependent on host movements as well as the timing of separation from the hosts. Optimal detachment behaviour is all the more crucial in nidicolous ticks as the risk of detaching in non-suitable habitat is high. In this study, we experimentally investigated the detachment behaviour of Ixodes arboricola, a nidicolous tick that primarily infests birds roosting in tree-holes. We infested great tits with I. arboricola larvae or nymphs, and submitted the birds to 2 experimental treatments, a control treatment in which birds had normal access to nest boxes and an experimental treatment, in which the birds were prevented access to their nest boxes for varying lengths of time. In the control group, most ticks detached within 5 days, whereas in the experimental group, ticks remained on the bird for as long as the bird was prevented access (up to 14 days). This prolonged attachment caused a decrease in survival and engorgement weight in nymphs, but not in larvae. The capacity of I. arboricola larvae to extend the duration of attachment in non-suitable environments with no apparent costs, may be an adaptation to unpredictable use of cavities by roosting hosts during winter, and at the same time may facilitate dispersal of the larval instars.
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