Aspects of the ecology of Ixodes ticks and Borelia burgdorferi at Loch Lomond

Williams, Justin H.G (1995) Aspects of the ecology of Ixodes ticks and Borelia burgdorferi at Loch Lomond. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

With increasing concern being expressed with regard to the disease, Lyme borreliosis, throughout the UK but particularly among those working in rural Scotland, this project was set up to explore the ecology of the causative bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi in Scotland. The aim was to identify aspects of the ecology which would be amenable to control, thereby reducing the prevalence of the disease in Scotland. A review of the literature established that the bacteria was transmitted in the UK by the tick vector Ixodes ricinus. Its animal hosts remained unknown but small mammals appeared to be the most likely candidates. Deer and birds were also possible reservoir species. The prevalence of the disease would therefore depend upon the size and behaviour of the vector population and the animal reservoir. Control of either may offer control over the disease. This study explored ways of quantifying tick populations and at factors affecting them. It showed for the first time that repeatedly dragging a blanket over the same piece of ground could lead to absolute measurements of population size. It also showed that ticks were more prevalent among the deep blaeberry bush vaccinia myrtilum than in the grass and leaf litter. Tick distribution was also shown to be patchy throughout the woodland. Host studies revealed large numbers of tick to be present on both birds and small mammals. These were nearly all Ixodes ricinus. Small mammal population sizes were measured using mark and recapture methods and bird population measurements carried out previously were used. The role of birds and mammals as tick hosts was then calculated. It was concluded that birds feed up to 10% and that small mammals feed up to 40% of the larval stage of the tick. Neither groups feed a significant number of older stages. Deer probably feed the majority of the remainder of ticks. However, it is noted that with these figures, small mammals could still be the most important animal reservoirs. Immunofluorescence was carried out on some of the ticks. Results were equivocal but supported findings elsewhere showing that B. burgdorferi is ubiquitous throughout tick infested areas of the UK. Lastly this study demonstrated the importance of ticks as potential parasites and vectors in Scotland and that for the sake of conservationists, farmers and tourists, their ecology needs further investigation.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Advisers: Bob Furness; Mike Turner
Keywords: Ecology, Entomology
Date of Award: 1995
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1995-70955
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 May 2019 09:21
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 09:21
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/70955

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