Jun 14, 2013

Effect of host lizard anemia on host choice and feeding rate of larval western black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus)

Experimental & Applied Acarology
William PittmanEmily N Taylor


Although ticks are known to exhibit preferences among host species, there is little evidence that ticks select hosts within a species based on physiological condition. It may be beneficial for ticks to choose hosts that are easier to feed upon if the ticks can perceive indicative chemical or other signals from the host. For example, if ticks can detect host hematocrit they may choose hosts with high hematocrit, facilitating a faster blood meal. It may similarly be adaptive for ticks to avoid anemic hosts because it may be difficult for them to obtain an adequate meal and feeding duration may be extended. We tested the hypothesis that larval western black-legged ticks (Ixodes pacificus) detect host hematocrit using external cues and choose healthy over anemic hosts, allowing them to feed more quickly. We presented groups of larval ticks with pairs of healthy and anemic male western fence lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), allowed them to select a host, and measured the feeding duration of the ticks. We found that the ticks did not exhibit a statistically significant preference for healthy over anemic lizards, but that the ticks fed to repletion significantly faster on healthy hosts than on anemic hosts. Larval ticks may not be a...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Host-Parasite Interactions
Seasonal Variation
Ixodes persulcatus
Suborder Ixodides
Ixodes scapularis
Genus Anemia
Hematocrit Procedure

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