Skip to main content

A survey of ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) from an over-abundant koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population in south eastern Australia, with an overview of the ticks and mites of koalas

Abstract

Within Australia, koala over-abundance has become a serious problem in some areas resulting in significant damage to native forests through defoliation. An over-abundant Victorian koala population was surveyed for ticks in the autumn of 2016. During the survey 1036 ticks were collected from 158 koalas. All ticks collected were identified as Ixodes tasmani. Tick prevalence, infestation intensity and on-host sex ratios were calculated for the population. An overview of the ticks and mites associated with koalas in Australia is also presented.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Anderson RM, May RM (1978) Regulation and stability of host-parasite population interactions: I. Regulatory processes. J Anim Ecol 47:219–247

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Arneberg P, Skorping A, Grenfell B, Read AF (1998) Host densities as determinants of abundance in parasite communities. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 265:1283–1289

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Barker IK (1974) Sarcoptes scabiei infestation of a koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), with probable human involvement. Aust Vet J 50:528–528

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barker SC, Walker AR (2014) Ticks of Australia. The species that infest domestic animals and humans. Zootaxa 3816:1–144

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Brown AS, Seawright AA, Wilkinson GT (1982) The use of amitraz in the control of an outbreak of sarcoptic mange in a colony of koalas. Aust Vet J 58:8–10

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Campbell RW, Domrow R (1974) Rickettsioses in Australia: isolation of Rickettsia tsutsugamushi and R. australis from naturally infected arthropods. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 68:397–402

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Dickens RK (1976) The koala in health and disease. Australian fauna management and disease. In: Refresher course veterinarians proceedings no. 29. Post-graduate Committee in Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, pp 105–17

  8. Domrow R (1958) A summary of the Atopomelinae (Acarina, Listrophoridae). Proc Linn Soc NSW 83:40–54

    Google Scholar 

  9. Domrow R (1992) Acari Astigmata (excluding feather mites) parasitic on Australian vertebrates: an annotated checklist, keys and bibliography. Invertebr Syst 6:1459–1606

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Fraser TA, Charleston M, Martin A, Polkinghorne A, Carver S (2016) The emergence of sarcoptic mange in Australian wildlife: an unresolved debate. Parasite Vectors 9:316

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Gordon G, Brown AS, Pulsford T (1988) A koala (Phascolarctos cinereus Goldfuss) population crash during drought and heatwave conditions in south-western Queensland. Aust Ecol 13:451–461

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Kwak ML (2017) Keys for the morphological identification of the Australian paralysis ticks (Acari: Ixodidae), with scanning electron micrographs. Exp Appl Acarol 72:93–101

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Martin RW (1981) Age-specific fertility in three populations of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus Goldfuss, in Victoria. Wildl Res 8:275–283

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Martin RW (1985) Overbrowsing, and decline of a population of the koala, Phascolarctos cinereus, in Victoria. II. Population condition. Wild Res 12:367–375

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Martin R (1997) Managing over abundance in koala populations in southeastern Australia: future options. Aust Biol 10:57

    Google Scholar 

  16. Masters P, Duka T, Berris S, Moss G (2004) Koalas on Kangaroo Island: from introduction to pest status in less than a century. Wildl Res 31:267–272

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. McInnes LM, Gillett A, Hanger J, Reid SA, Ryan UM (2011) The potential impact of native Australian trypanosome infections on the health of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Parasitol 138:873–883

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Menkhorst P, Knight F (2010) Field guide to the mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press, Melbourne

    Google Scholar 

  19. Murdoch FA, Spratt DM (2006) Ecology of the common marsupial tick (Ixodes tasmani Neumann)(Acarina: Ixodidae), in eastern Australia. Aust J Zool 53(6):383–388

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Nutting WB (1976) Hair follicle mites (Demodex spp.) of medical and veterinary concern. Cornell Vet 66:214–231

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Obendorf DL (1983) Causes of mortality and morbidity of wild koalas, Phascolarctos cinereus (Goldfuss), in Victoria, Australia. J Wildl Dis 19:123–131

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Pence DB, Windberg LA, Pence BC, Sprowls R (1983) The epizootiology and pathology of sarcoptic mange in coyotes, Canis latrans, from south Texas. J Parasitol 69:1100–1115

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Phillips SS (2000) Population trends and the koala conservation debate. Conserv Biol 14:650–659

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Roberts FHS (1970) Australian ticks. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne

    Google Scholar 

  25. Scott ME, Dobson A (1989) The role of parasites in regulating host abundance. Trends Parasitol 5:176–183

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Seddon HR, Albiston HE (1968) Diseases of domestic animals in Australia. Part 3, Arthropod infestations (ticks and mites), 2nd edn. revised by HE Albiston, Department of Health, Canberra, Australia

  27. Spencer AJ, Canfield PJ (1993) Haematological characterisation of heavy tick infestation in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Comp Haematol Int 3:225–229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Spencer AJ, Canfield PJ (1995) Bone marrow examination in the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). Comp Haematol Int 5:31–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Spratt DM, Haycock P (1988) Aspects of the life history of Cercopithifilaria johnstoni (Nematoda: Filarioidea). Int J Parasitol 18:1087–1092

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Vilcins IME, Old JM, Deane E (2008) Detection of a spotted fever group Rickettsia in the tick Ixodes tasmani collected from koalas in Port Macquarie, Australia. J Med Entomol 45:745–750

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Vilcins IME, Old JM, Deane E (2009) Molecular detection of Rickettsia, Coxiella and Rickettsiella DNA in three native Australian tick species. Exp Appl Acarol 49:229–242

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Vogelnest LJ, Vogelnest L, Mueller RS (2000) An undescribed Demodex sp. and demodicosis in a captive koala (Phascolarctos cinereus). J Zoo Wildl Med 31:100–106

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Weilgama DJ, Cremin M, Dobson C, Moorhouse DE (1986) Transmission of Theileria peramelis Mackerras, 1959 by Ixodes tasmani. In: Cremin M, Dobson C, Moorhouse DE (eds) Parasite lives. Papers on parasites, their hosts and their associations. To honour JFA sprent. University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, pp 174–178

    Google Scholar 

  34. Yugovic J (2015) Do ecosystems need top predators?: A review of native predator-prey imbalances in south-east Australia. Victorian Nat 132:4

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We are thankful to the Victorian state government’s department of environment, land, water and planning for giving permission for this project to occur. We are also thankful to Dr. John Wainer for critical comments on this manuscript.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to M. L. Kwak.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kwak, M.L., Reed, J. A survey of ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) from an over-abundant koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) population in south eastern Australia, with an overview of the ticks and mites of koalas. Exp Appl Acarol 73, 109–114 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10493-017-0169-z

Download citation

Keywords

  • Ixodes tasmani
  • Mange
  • Infestation
  • Abundance
  • Tick-host interaction