Investigation of ecological and environmental determinants for the presence of questing ixodes ricinus (Acari: Ixodidae) on Gower, South Wales

Jolyon Medlock, M. E. Pietzsch, N. V.P. Rice, L. Jones, E. Kerrod, D. Avenell, S. Los, N. Ratcliffe, Stephen Leach, T. Butt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The spatial heterogeneity of questing Ixodes ricinus (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae) within endemic areas in Great Britain is well established. Their presence is acutely responsive to blood host availability and their ability to maintain water balance, which are in turn governed by a variety of ecological and environmental factors. This article details the findings of a 3-yr study on the Gower peninsula, south Wales, which investigated the contribution of such factors (both ground- and geographic information systems [GIS]-derived) for predicting the presence of questing I. ricinus (Qp), at a local scale. Statistically significant univariate associations were found between Qp and calcareous/ neutral grassland and heathland habitats, particularly those grazed by livestock, and various factors that intuitively promote tick survival. For example, topographical features, such as certain aspects, that reduce exposure to cold northerly winds and the hot midday sun, favored Qp. Similarly, positive associations were found with substrata composed of less permeable soil types and less permeable superficial/bedrock geologies that promote a moist microhabitat and reduce the likelihood of desiccation. Qp was also higher in areas of high soil moisture. This study highlighted a number of GIS-derived data sets that could be applied in the development of local and national predictive maps for I. ricinus in Great Britain. An understanding of the influence of these factors on questing I. ricinus can aid targeted tick control programs and help to educate the public, and those occupationally exposed, in understanding likely I. ricinus prolific areas within an I. ricinus endemic region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-325
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

Keywords

  • Ecology
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Risk mapping
  • Ticks
  • Vectors

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