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Ticks and pathogen circulation in high arctic seabird populations (TICKPATHSEAB)

This project aims at describing and understanding factors affecting the distribution and circulation of infectious agents in animal populations of the high arctic, notably of tick-borne pathogens. It is part of the French Polar Institute research program ???Host-parasite interactions in space: dispersal and local interactions in arctic seabirds???

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Project date

Starts
2014-07-01

Ends
2016-08-30

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Project Keywords

  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / species/population interactions

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Summary

This project aims at describing and understanding factors affecting the distribution and circulation of infectious agents in animal populations of the high arctic, notably of tick-borne pathogens. It is part of the French Polar Institute research program ???Host-parasite interactions in space: dispersal and local interactions in arctic seabirds??? (PARASITO-ARCTIQUE, IPEV prg n??333). The general aim of this research program is to examine the response of animal populations to environmental variability at different spatial scales. The study system is a host-parasite system at three levels, involving arctic seabirds as hosts, the tick Ixodes uriae as their ectoparasite and Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi as a microparasite. The role of dispersal, variability in host phenotypic responses (immunology and behaviour) and coevolution between the hosts and the vector tick for the ecology and evolution of such interactions at different scales is studied. In addition to laboratory analyses, the approach combines field experiment to the analyses of samples and data recorded in a spatial context. The specific objectives of the Svalbard part of this project are to attempt to infer the colonization dynamics of seabird tick populations at high latitudes under current environmental changes by (1) comparing the genetic characteristics of Svalbard seabird tick populations to that of seabird tick populations sampled in other arctic and more southern locations, and (2) investigating the potential presence of antibodies against infectious agents known to circulate in other seabird tick populations. The approach requires the sampling of ticks and blood sampling of seabirds on breeding colonies. It relies on the sampling of populations at various sites and at different times (i.e. in different years).

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