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Parasitized or non-parasitized, why? A study of factors influencing tick burden in roe deer neonates

Abstract : Ixodes ricinus, the most common species of tick in Europe, is known to transmit major pathogens to animals and humans such as Babesia spp. or Borrelia spp. Its abundance and distribution have been steadily increasing in Europe during recent decades, due to global environmental changes. Indeed, as ticks spend most of their life in the environment, their activity and life cycle are highly dependent on environmental conditions and therefore, on climate or habitat changes. Simultaneously, wild ungulates have expanded their range and increased dramatically in abundance worldwide, in particular roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), allowing tick populations to grow and spread. Currently, tick infestation on newborn wild ungulates is poorly documented. However, newborn ungulates are considered more sensitive to tick bites and pathogen transmission because of their immature immune systems. Thus, improving knowledge about the factors influencing tick infestation on newborns is essential to better understand their health risks. This study was conducted at Trois-Fontaines Forest, Champagne-Ardenne, France (1992-2018). Based on a long-term monitoring of roe deer fawns, we used a novel Bayesian model of the infestation of fawns to identify which biotic or abiotic factors were likely to modify the level of infestation by ticks of 965 fawns over time. We show that tick burden increased faster during the first days of life of the fawns and became constant when fawns were five days old and more, which could be explained by the depletion of questing ticks or the turnover of ticks feeding on fawns. Moreover, despite the known positive influence of humidity on tick activity, the tick burdens were weakly related to this parameter. Our results demonstrate that tick infestation was highly variable among years, particularly between 2000-2009. We hypothesize that this results from a modification of habitat caused by Hurricane Lothar.
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Contributor : Léa Bariod Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, November 22, 2022 - 10:57:19 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 23, 2022 - 3:59:56 AM


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Léa Bariod, Sonia Saïd, Clément Calenge, Stéphane Chabot, Vincent Badeau, et al.. Parasitized or non-parasitized, why? A study of factors influencing tick burden in roe deer neonates. PLoS ONE, 2022, 17 (7), pp.e0262973. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0262973⟩. ⟨hal-03865185⟩



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