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The effect of spatial heterogenity on the aggregation of ticks on white-footed mice
  • Published Date:
    Mar 12 2012
  • Source:
    Parasitology. 2012; 139(7).
Filetype[PDF-1.23 MB]

  • Pubmed ID:
  • Pubmed Central ID:
  • Description:
    Parasites are often aggregated on a minority of the individuals in their host populations. Although host characteristics are commonly presumed to explain parasite aggregation on hosts, spatio-temporal aggregation of parasites during their host-seeking stages may have a dominant effect on the aggregation on hosts. We aimed to quantify, using mixed models, repeatability and autocorrelation analyses, the degree to which the aggregation of blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) on white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) is influenced by spatio-temporal distributions of the host-seeking ticks and by heterogeneity among mice. Host-seeking ticks were spatially aggregated at both the larval and nymphal life-stages. However, this spatial aggregation accounted for little of the variation in larval and nymphal burdens observed on mice (3% and 0%, respectively). Conversely, mouse identity accounted for a substantial proportion of the variance in tick burdens. Mouse identity was a significant explanatory factor as the majority of ticks parasitized a consistent set of mice throughout the activity seasons. Of the characteristics associated with mouse identity investigated, only gender affected larval burdens, and body mass and home range sizes in males were correlated with nymphal burdens. These analyses suggest that aggregation of ticks on a minority of mice does not result from the distribution of host-seeking ticks but from characteristics of the hosts.

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  • Funding:
    R01 AI076342/AI/NIAID NIH HHS/United States
    AI076342/AI/NIAID NIH HHS/United States
    CK000170/CK/NCEZID CDC HHS/United States
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