Cascading effects of predator activity on tick-borne disease risk

Tim R. Hofmeester*, Patrick A. Jansen, H.J. Wijnen, Elena C. Coipan, Manoj Fonville, Herbert H.T. Prins, Hein Sprong, Sipke E. van Wieren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Predators and competitors of vertebrates can in theory reduce the density of infected nymphs (DIN)—an often-used measure of tick-borne disease risk— by lowering the density of reservoir-competent hosts and/or the tick burden on reservoir-competent hosts. We investigated this possible indirect effect of predators by comparing data from 20 forest plots across the Netherlands that varied in predator abundance. In each plot, we measured the density of questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs (DON), DIN for three pathogens, rodent density, the tick burden on rodents and the activity of mammalian predators.We analysed whether rodent density and tick burden on rodents were correlated with predator activity, and how rodent density and tick burden predicted DON and DIN for the three pathogens. We found that larval burden on two rodent species decreased with activity of two predator species, while DON and DIN for all three pathogens increased with larval burden on rodents, as predicted. Path analyses supported an indirect negative correlation of activity of both predator species with DON and DIN. Our results suggest that predators can indeed lower the number of ticks feeding on reservoir-competent hosts, which implies that changes in predator abundance may have cascading effects on tick-borne disease risk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20170453
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Volume284
Issue number1859
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Tick-Borne Diseases
tick-borne diseases
tick
Nymph
Rodentia
Ticks
predator
predators
rodent
rodents
nymphs
Pathogens
ticks
pathogen
Ixodes
pathogens
effect
Netherlands
Vertebrates
Ixodes ricinus

Keywords

  • Borrelia burgdorferi s.l
  • Borrelia miyamotoi
  • Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis
  • Carnivores
  • Ixodes ricinus
  • Rodents

Cite this

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title = "Cascading effects of predator activity on tick-borne disease risk",
abstract = "Predators and competitors of vertebrates can in theory reduce the density of infected nymphs (DIN)—an often-used measure of tick-borne disease risk— by lowering the density of reservoir-competent hosts and/or the tick burden on reservoir-competent hosts. We investigated this possible indirect effect of predators by comparing data from 20 forest plots across the Netherlands that varied in predator abundance. In each plot, we measured the density of questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs (DON), DIN for three pathogens, rodent density, the tick burden on rodents and the activity of mammalian predators.We analysed whether rodent density and tick burden on rodents were correlated with predator activity, and how rodent density and tick burden predicted DON and DIN for the three pathogens. We found that larval burden on two rodent species decreased with activity of two predator species, while DON and DIN for all three pathogens increased with larval burden on rodents, as predicted. Path analyses supported an indirect negative correlation of activity of both predator species with DON and DIN. Our results suggest that predators can indeed lower the number of ticks feeding on reservoir-competent hosts, which implies that changes in predator abundance may have cascading effects on tick-borne disease risk.",
keywords = "Borrelia burgdorferi s.l, Borrelia miyamotoi, Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis, Carnivores, Ixodes ricinus, Rodents",
author = "Hofmeester, {Tim R.} and Jansen, {Patrick A.} and H.J. Wijnen and Coipan, {Elena C.} and Manoj Fonville and Prins, {Herbert H.T.} and Hein Sprong and {van Wieren}, {Sipke E.}",
year = "2017",
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journal = "Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences",
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Cascading effects of predator activity on tick-borne disease risk. / Hofmeester, Tim R.; Jansen, Patrick A.; Wijnen, H.J.; Coipan, Elena C.; Fonville, Manoj; Prins, Herbert H.T.; Sprong, Hein; van Wieren, Sipke E.

In: Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences, Vol. 284, No. 1859, 20170453, 2017.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Cascading effects of predator activity on tick-borne disease risk

AU - Hofmeester, Tim R.

AU - Jansen, Patrick A.

AU - Wijnen, H.J.

AU - Coipan, Elena C.

AU - Fonville, Manoj

AU - Prins, Herbert H.T.

AU - Sprong, Hein

AU - van Wieren, Sipke E.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Predators and competitors of vertebrates can in theory reduce the density of infected nymphs (DIN)—an often-used measure of tick-borne disease risk— by lowering the density of reservoir-competent hosts and/or the tick burden on reservoir-competent hosts. We investigated this possible indirect effect of predators by comparing data from 20 forest plots across the Netherlands that varied in predator abundance. In each plot, we measured the density of questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs (DON), DIN for three pathogens, rodent density, the tick burden on rodents and the activity of mammalian predators.We analysed whether rodent density and tick burden on rodents were correlated with predator activity, and how rodent density and tick burden predicted DON and DIN for the three pathogens. We found that larval burden on two rodent species decreased with activity of two predator species, while DON and DIN for all three pathogens increased with larval burden on rodents, as predicted. Path analyses supported an indirect negative correlation of activity of both predator species with DON and DIN. Our results suggest that predators can indeed lower the number of ticks feeding on reservoir-competent hosts, which implies that changes in predator abundance may have cascading effects on tick-borne disease risk.

AB - Predators and competitors of vertebrates can in theory reduce the density of infected nymphs (DIN)—an often-used measure of tick-borne disease risk— by lowering the density of reservoir-competent hosts and/or the tick burden on reservoir-competent hosts. We investigated this possible indirect effect of predators by comparing data from 20 forest plots across the Netherlands that varied in predator abundance. In each plot, we measured the density of questing Ixodes ricinus nymphs (DON), DIN for three pathogens, rodent density, the tick burden on rodents and the activity of mammalian predators.We analysed whether rodent density and tick burden on rodents were correlated with predator activity, and how rodent density and tick burden predicted DON and DIN for the three pathogens. We found that larval burden on two rodent species decreased with activity of two predator species, while DON and DIN for all three pathogens increased with larval burden on rodents, as predicted. Path analyses supported an indirect negative correlation of activity of both predator species with DON and DIN. Our results suggest that predators can indeed lower the number of ticks feeding on reservoir-competent hosts, which implies that changes in predator abundance may have cascading effects on tick-borne disease risk.

KW - Borrelia burgdorferi s.l

KW - Borrelia miyamotoi

KW - Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis

KW - Carnivores

KW - Ixodes ricinus

KW - Rodents

U2 - 10.1098/rspb.2017.0453

DO - 10.1098/rspb.2017.0453

M3 - Article

VL - 284

JO - Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences

JF - Proceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences

SN - 0962-8452

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M1 - 20170453

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