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Distribution and Abundance of the Tick Ixodes uriae in a Diverse Subantarctic Seabird Community

Sven Bergström, Paul D. Haemig and Björn Olsen
The Journal of Parasitology
Vol. 85, No. 1 (Feb., 1999), pp. 25-27
DOI: 10.2307/3285694
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3285694
Page Count: 3
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Abstract

At Bird Island, South Georgia, we surveyed the distribution and abundance of ticks on the vertebrate fauna and found only 1 species Ixodes uriae. We classified all seabird species into 3 groups: (1) seabirds nesting on the surface of the ground solitarily, in dispersed groups of a few nests, or in colonies with well-spaced nests; (2) seabirds nesting on the surface of the ground in dense colonies; and (3) seabirds nesting in dense colonies in burrows or rock crevices. We detected I. uriae only on 3 species of the second group that nested in large, dense, persistent colonies, i.e., black-browed albatross (Diomedea melanophrys), gray-headed albatross (Diomedea chrysostoma), and macaroni penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus). Ticks were found on the undersides of the feet on albatrosses but not on the undersides of the feet on penguins. We hypothesize that the coarse pebble nests of penguins, combined with the fact that their young walk around more than albatross young, make the environment on the underside of penguin feet more harsh and hostile for ticks than the underside of albatross feet. Despite the great abundance of Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella) on the island, we found no ticks on them.

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