A survey of tick species in a recently reintroduced elk (Cervus canadensis) population in Southeastern Kentucky, USA, with potential implications for interstate translocation of zoonotic disease vectors

B. L. Slabach, A. McKinney, J. Cunningham, J. T. Hast, J. J. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the late 20th century, elk (Cervus canadensis) were reintroduced into southeastern Kentucky, US. This population has since been used as a stock population for additional elk reintroductions in other eastern states. Although reintroduction and translocation practices are effective, they can disseminate vectors and pathogens. Therefore, we surveyed tick species residing on elk hosts a decade after elk reintroduction in Kentucky by examining 263 captured individuals (female=86; male=177) from 2011 to 2013. A total of 1,617 ticks were collected from 255 elk. We found five tick species: American dog (Dermacentor variabilis), Gulf Coast (Amblyom-ma maculatum), winter (Dermacentor albipictus), deer (Ixodes scapularis), and Lone Star (Ambly-omma americanum). The most prevalent ticks were winter tick (52.3%) and American dog tick (42.1%). We found no difference between female and male elk in mean intensity of American dog tick (mean=2.6, 95% confidence limits: 2.6, 2.7; P=0.701) or winter tick (mean=3.28, 95% confidence limits: 2.21, 2.07; P=0.274). Our findings demonstrated that the elk population acts as host to a diversity of tick species, suggested a broader distribution of tick species than previously reported in Kentucky, and highlighted the potential for inadvertent spread of ticks through translocation and reintroduction efforts, even on a local scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-370
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Volume54
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Wildlife Disease Association 2018.

Keywords

  • Elk reintroduction
  • Kentucky
  • Tick distribution
  • Vector translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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