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Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes

Ehrmann, Steffen and Liira, Jaan and Gärtner, Stefanie and Hansen, Karin and Brunet, Jörg and Cousins, Sara A. O. and Deconchat, Marc and Decocq, Guillaume and De Frenne, Pieter and De Smedt, Pallieter and Diekmann, Martin and Gallet-Moron, Emilie and Kolb, Annette and Lenoir, Jonathan and Lindgren, Jessica and Naaf, Tobias and Paal, Taavi and Valdés, Alicia and Verheyen, Kris and Wulf, Monika and Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes. (2017) BMC Ecology, 17 (1). 1-14. ISSN 1472-6785

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-017-0141-0

Abstract

Background: The castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) transmits infectious diseases such as Lyme borreliosis, which constitutes an important ecosystem disservice. Despite many local studies, a comprehensive understanding of the key drivers of tick abundance at the continental scale is still lacking. We analyze a large set of environmental factors as potential drivers of I. ricinus abundance. Our multi-scale study was carried out in deciduous forest fragments dispersed within two contrasting rural landscapes of eight regions, along a macroclimatic gradient stretching from southern France to central Sweden and Estonia. We surveyed the abundance of I. ricinus, plant community composition, forest structure and soil properties and compiled data on landscape structure, macroclimate and habitat properties. We used linear mixed models to analyze patterns and derived the relative importance of the significant drivers. Results: Many drivers had, on their own, either a moderate or small explanatory value for the abundance of I. ricinus, but combined they explained a substantial part of variation. This emphasizes the complex ecology of I. ricinus and the relevance of environmental factors for tick abundance. Macroclimate only explained a small fraction of variation, while properties of macro- and microhabitat, which buffer macroclimate, had a considerable impact on tick abundance. The amount of forest and the composition of the surrounding rural landscape were additionally important drivers of tick abundance. Functional (dispersules) and structural (density of tree and shrub layers) properties of the habitat patch played an important role. Various diversity metrics had only a small relative importance. Ontogenetic tick stages showed pronounced differences in their response. The abundance of nymphs and adults is explained by the preceding stage with a positive relationship, indicating a cumulative effect of drivers. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the ecosystem disservices of tick-borne diseases, via the abundance of ticks, strongly depends on habitat properties and thus on how humans manage ecosystems from the scale of the microhabitat to the landscape. This study stresses the need to further evaluate the interaction between climate change and ecosystem management on I. ricinus abundance.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to BioMed Central editor. The original PDF of the article can be found at https://bmcecol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12898-017-0141-0
HAL Id:hal-01604302
ProdINRA Id:406414
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
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Deposited On:11 Dec 2017 13:49

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