Characterisation of the biological cycle of Ixodes ricinus in the Basque Country and study of biotic and abiotic factors that cause temporary changes in their abundance

  • Financing: INIA (National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology) – RTA2011-00008-C02-02
  • Head researcher: Ana L García-Pérez,
  • Implementation: 2011-2015

The main objective of this coordinated project is to examine the kinetics of the populations of Ixodes in domestic and wild animals and the vegetation in two communities in the North of Spain, the Basque Country and Asturias, and study the epidemiological aspects of diseases transmitted by ticks which are of veterinary interest, such as piroplasmosis and anaplasmosis, analysing the differences between the two study areas in relation to possible reservoirs and the species of Ixodes involved.

The specific objectives are:

1. Study of the seasonal kinetics of the three stages of Ixodes ricinus in the vegetation of the Basque Country. The results obtained from the abundance indices will be compared with previous results in the same area, in order to check temporal changes in the abundance.
2. Characterisation of the cycle of I. ricinus in the hosts. In the same area of sampling, we will regularly examine the livestock in a semi-extensive regime. As far as possible, we will also take samples from small mammals and other wildlife that are taken in at wildlife recovery centres and hunting associations close to the sampling area. The object is to know the preferences of each stage when it comes to feeding on the hosts.
3. Fine tuning of generic PCRs to sift out the samples which are positive to anaplasma and piroplasm. These techniques will be transferred to the SERIDA Group, which will also apply them to tick samples from vegetation and/or blood from domestic and wild animals.
4. Study of the presence and prevalence of varieties of Anaplasma sp. (A. marginale/ A. ovis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum) circulating in ticks and domestic and wild animals in the Basque Country.
5. To determine the influence of environmental factors on the presence and abundance of ticks and pathogens studied, such as the climate, habitat and composition of the community of potential hosts. Data collected in both communities will be integrated and studied as a whole