Identifying Hosts of the Gulf Coast Tick in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Title

Identifying Hosts of the Gulf Coast Tick in the Mid-Atlantic Region

College

College of Sciences

Program

Ph.D. Ecological Sciences

Publication Date

3-28-2019

Abstract

The Gulf Coast Tick ( Amblyomma maculatum ) is undergoing a range expansion from the historic range in the Gulf Coast into the Mid-Atlantic. Amblyomma maculatum are known vectors of Rickettsia parkeri, the causative agent of Tidewater spotted fever. Movement of ticks beyond a few meters is limited to host movement while the tick is attached, and so it is critical to identify the preferred hosts of this tick species. Determining the community of hosts for all life stages of A. maculatum through small mammal sampling, camera trapping, and meso-mammal surveys in the Mid-Atlantic region will help with understanding how A. maculatum got to the region and where it is likely to go next. Two pilot studies were conducted to determine useful methodologies for identifying potential host species. Pilot studies conducted were camera trap surveys and convenience sampling through various techniques. Results from these preliminary studies to demonstrate the usefulness of non-invasive techniques will be used to narrow down potential host species that can be specifically targeted. My dissertation will focus on determining the community ecology structure needed to support these ephemeral tick populations and in particular what hosts are driving the high prevalence of R. parkeri in our region.

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Identifying Hosts of the Gulf Coast Tick in the Mid-Atlantic Region


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