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Short Note: Increase in feeding by the tick, Ixodes uriae, on Adélie penguins during a prolonged summer

  • Joshua B. Benoit (a1), Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez (a1), Michael A. Elnitsky (a2), Richard E. Lee (a2) and David L. Denlinger (a1)...

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Ixodes uriae White is the only tick species found in Antarctica, and in our research area at Palmer Station it feeds predominantly on Adélie penguins. At the beginning of the summer the ticks leave their off-host aggregation sites, feed on penguins, then subsequently return to their off-host habitats, where they remain until the next summer (Benoit et al. 2007). These ticks have been implicated as a competent vector for Borrelia spirochetes (Olsen et al. 1993) and tick-borne viruses (Nuttall 1984), and are thought to impact development, cause anaemia, alter the thermoregulation, and even lead to the death of penguins (Gauthier-Clerc et al. 1998, Mangin et al. 2003). In this report, we note a striking increase in the number of fed ticks found near Adélie penguin rookeries in 2007 compared to 2006, suggesting that the longer and warmer summer of 2007 may have permitted more ticks to find their hosts. High levels of parasitism could be detrimental to the already declining Adélie penguin populations near Palmer Station (Fraser & Patterson 1997).

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Benoit, J.B., Yoder, J.A., Lopez-Martinez, G., Elnitsky, M.A., Lee, R.E. Jr & Denlinger, D.L. 2007. Habitat requirement of the seabird tick, Ixodes uriae (Acari: Ixodidae), from the Antarctic Peninsula in relation to water balance characteristics of eggs, nonfed and engorged stages. Journal of Comparative Physiology, B177, 205215.
Bergstrom, S., Haemig, P.D. & Olsen, B. 1999. Increased mortality of black-browed albatross chicks at a colony heavily infested with the tick Ixodes uriae. International Journal of Parasitology, 29, 13591361.
Fraser, W.R. & Patterson, D.L. 1997. Human disturbances and long-term changes in Adélie penguin populations: natural experiments at Palmer Station, Antarctic Peninsula. In Battaglia, B., Valencia, J. & Walton, D.W.H.eds. Antarctic communities: species, structure and survival. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 445446.
Frenot, Y., De Oliveira, E., Gauthier-Clerc, M., Deunff, J., Bellido, A. & Vernon, P. 2001. Life cycle of the tick Ixodes uriae (White, 1852) in penguin colonies: relationship with host breeding activity. International Journal of Parasitology, 31, 10401047.
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Mangin, S., Gauthier-Clerc, M., Frenot, Y., Gendner, J.-P. & Le Maho, Y. 2003. Ticks Ixodes uriae and the breeding performance of a colonial seabird, king penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus. Journal of Avian Biology, 34, 3034.
Murray, M.D. & Vestjens, J.M. 1967. Studies on the ectoparasites of seals and penguins. III. The distribution of the tick Ixodes uriae White and the flea Parapsyllus magellanicus heardi de Meillon on Macquarie Island. Australian Journal of Zoology, 15, 715725.
Nuttall, P.A. 1984. Tick-borne viruses in seabird colonies. Seabird, 7, 3141.
Olsen, B., Duffy, D.C., Jaenson, T.G.T., Gylfe, A., Bonnedahl, J. & Bergström, S. 1993. A lyme borreliosis cycle in seabirds and Ixodes uriae ticks. Nature, 362, 340342.
Schulte, G.G., Elnitsky, M.A., Benoit, J.B., Denlinger, D.L. & Lee, R.E. Jr 2008. Extremely large aggregations of collembolan eggs on Humble Island, Antarctica: a response to early seasonal warming? Polar Biology, 31, 889892.

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Short Note: Increase in feeding by the tick, Ixodes uriae, on Adélie penguins during a prolonged summer

  • Joshua B. Benoit (a1), Giancarlo Lopez-Martinez (a1), Michael A. Elnitsky (a2), Richard E. Lee (a2) and David L. Denlinger (a1)...

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