, Volume 59, Issue 1-2, pp 219-244
Date: 27 Sep 2012

Changing distributions of ticks: causes and consequences

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Abstract

Today, we are witnessing changes in the spatial distribution and abundance of many species, including ticks and their associated pathogens. Evidence that these changes are primarily due to climate change, habitat modifications, and the globalisation of human activities are accumulating. Changes in the distribution of ticks and their invasion into new regions can have numerous consequences including modifications in their ecological characteristics and those of endemic species, impacts on the dynamics of local host populations and the emergence of human and livestock disease. Here, we review the principal causes for distributional shifts in tick populations and their consequences in terms of the ecological attributes of the species in question (i.e. phenotypic and genetic responses), pathogen transmission and disease epidemiology. We also describe different methodological approaches currently used to assess and predict such changes and their consequences. We finish with a discussion of new research avenues to develop in order to improve our understanding of these host–vector–pathogen interactions in the context of a changing world.