Ecological preferences of exophilic and endophilic ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) parasitizing wild carnivores in the Iberian Peninsula

Raquel Sobrino, Javier Millán, Álvaro Oleaga, Christian Gortázar, José de la Fuente, Francisco Ruiz-Fons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ticks parasitizing wild carnivores and the tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) that they transmit may affect domestic carnivores and humans. Thus, investigating the role of wild carnivores as tick hosts is of relevance for understanding the life cycle of ticks in natural foci and the epidemiology of TBPs shared with domestic animals and humans. Therefore, the main objective of this study was to determine the ixodid tick fauna of wild carnivores in Peninsular Spain and the environmental factors driving the risk of wild carnivores to be parasitized by ixodid ticks. We hypothesized that the adaptation of tick species to differing climatic conditions may be reflected in a similar parasitization risk of wild carnivores by ticks between bioclimatic regions in our study area. To test this, we surveyed ixodid ticks in wild carnivores in oceanic, continental-Mediterranean, and thermo-Mediterranean bioclimatic regions of Peninsular Spain. We analyzed the influence of environmental factors on the risk of wild carnivores to be parasitized by ticks by performing logistic regression models. Models were separately performed for exophilic and endophilic ticks under the expected differing influence of environmental conditions on their life cycle. We found differences in the composition of the tick community parasitizing wild carnivores from different bioclimatic regions. Modelling results partially confirmed our null hypothesis because bioclimatic region was not a relevant factor influencing the risk of wild carnivores to be parasitized by exophilic ticks. Bioclimatic region was however a factor driving the risk of wild carnivores to be parasitized by endophilic ticks. Spanish wild carnivores are hosts to a relevant number of tick species, some of them being potential vectors of pathogens causing serious animal and human diseases. Information provided herein can be of help to understand tick ecology in Spanish wildlife, the epidemiology of tick-borne diseases, and to prevent the risks of TBPs for wildlife, domestic animals, and humans. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-257
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Volume184
Issue number2-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2012

Keywords

  • Behaviour
  • Climate
  • Ecology
  • Endophilic
  • Exophilic
  • Mediterranean
  • Tick

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