LAND: Partial migration of red deer and tick distribution at the altitudinal colonization border (TickDeer)

We use the cloth lure method to survey for ticks in the home ranges of red deer along the south-west coast of Norway. Here in the county of Sogn og Fjordane.

About the project TickDeer

TickDeer is a multidisciplinary project aiming to understand the functional significance of red deer migration for an invasive species, the tick, and vice versa at the altitudinal colonization border. The red deer are currently regarded a keystone herbivore along the west coast of Norway. Alongside this increase in deer density, it is a common perception that the ticks increase in abundance and distribution. The role of animal space use for tick distribution are less well understood. Seasonal migration by red deer may potentially play a key role for tick distribution. Equally true, the role of parasites for partial migration pattern in large herbivores have been largely ignored. We aim to accomplish such an understanding by a hierarchical, nested sampling design facilitated by the access to a large number of GPS-marked individuals of red deer (>200) with known migration tactics.

  • In WP1, we quantify the distribution of ticks in landscapes along the west coast of Norway relative to migration, local density, and fine-scale space use of red deer as well as relative to habitat. We hypothesize that spring migration by red deer may allow (re)colonization of higher altitude areas, for which ticks are not able to persist either year round or in specific harsh years.
  • In WP2, we estimate tick load from ears of GPS-marked animals with known migration tactics and body mass, enabling a study of the relationship between tick load and migratory behavior and performance.
  • In WP3, we link disease in ticks to migratory behavior and performance of red deer. This will give important insight into distribution of ticks and a potential role of red deer to serve as vector of ticks and their diseases by seasonal migration.

Ticks can carry and transmit agents of human (Borrelia spp.) and animal disease (Anaplasma spp.), and understanding the role of red deer density and space use for tick density and disease prevalence can provide a key to mitigation efforts.

The project started 1. April 2011, and is 3 yr long.

Financing

The Research Council of Norway; over the program Miljø-2015.

The Directorate for nature management

Tags: tick, red deer
Published Apr. 12, 2011 11:05 AM - Last modified May 12, 2011 8:23 AM