The relationships between Ixodes ricinus and small mammal species at the woodland–pasture interface
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- Boyard, C., Vourc’h, G. & Barnouin, J. Exp Appl Acarol (2008) 44: 61. doi:10.1007/s10493-008-9132-3
Ixodes ricinus, as vector, and small mammals, as reservoirs, are implicated in pathogen transmission between wild fauna, domestic animals and humans at the woodland–pasture interface. The ecological relationship between ticks and small mammals was monitored in 2005 on four bocage (enclosed pastureland) sites in central France, where questing ticks were collected by dragging and small mammals were trapped. Questing I. ricinus tick and small mammal locations in the environment were assessed through correspondence analysis. I. ricinus larval burden on small mammals was modeled using a negative binomial law. The correspondence analyses underlined three landscape features: grassland, hedgerow, and woodland. Seven small mammal species were trapped, while questing ticks were all I. ricinus, with the highest abundance in woodland and the lowest in pasture. The small mammals were overall more abundant in hedgerow, less present in woodland and sparse in grassland. They carried mainly I. ricinus, and secondarily I. acuminatus and I. trianguliceps. The most likely profile for a tick-infested small mammal corresponded to a male wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) in woodland or hedgerow during a dry day. A. sylvaticus, which was the only species captured in grassland, but was also present in hedgerow and woodland, may be a primary means of transfer of I. ricinus larvae from woodland to pasture.