Climate of origin affects tick (Ixodes ricinus) host-seeking behavior in response to temperature: implications for resilience to climate change?
Article first published online: 10 MAR 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 4, Issue 7, pages 1186–1198, April 2014
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2014; 4(7):1186–1198
- Issue published online: 7 APR 2014
- Article first published online: 10 MAR 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 9 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 27 AUG 2013
- Australian Research Council Future Fellowship
- Scottish Government Rural and Environment Science
- Analytical Services Division
- M Sc project research grant from the University of Aberdeen
- phenotypic plasticity;
Climate warming is changing distributions and phenologies of many organisms and may also impact on vectors of disease-causing pathogens. In Europe, the tick Ixodes ricinus is the primary vector of medically important pathogens (e.g., Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, the causative agent of Lyme borreliosis). How might climate change affect I. ricinus host-seeking behavior (questing)? We hypothesize that, in order to maximize survival, I. ricinus have adapted their questing in response to temperature in accordance with local climates. We predicted that ticks from cooler climates quest at cooler temperatures than those from warmer climates. This would suggest that I. ricinus can adapt and therefore have the potential to be resilient to climate change. I. ricinus were collected from a cline of climates using a latitudinal gradient (northeast Scotland, North Wales, South England, and central France). Under laboratory conditions, ticks were subjected to temperature increases of 1°C per day, from 6 to 15°C. The proportion of ticks questing was recorded five times per temperature (i.e., per day). The theoretical potential to quest was then estimated for each population over the year for future climate change projections. As predicted, more ticks from cooler climates quested at lower temperatures than did ticks from warmer climates. The proportion of ticks questing was strongly associated with key climate parameters from each location. Our projections, based on temperature alone, suggested that populations could advance their activity season by a month under climate change, which has implications for exposure periods of hosts to tick-borne pathogens. Our findings suggest that I. ricinus have adapted their behavior in response to climate, implying some potential to adapt to climate change. Predictive models of I. ricinus dynamics and disease risk over continental scales would benefit from knowledge of these differences between populations.