• Temporal-Spatial Variation in Questing Tick Activity in the Netherlands: The Effect of Climatic and Habitat Factors.

      Hartemink, Nienke; van Vliet, Arnold; Sprong, Hein; Jacobs, Frans; Garcia-Martí, Irene; Zurita-Milla, Raul; Takken, Willem (2019-02-27)
      Longitudinal studies are fundamental in the assessment of the effect of environmental factors on tick population dynamics. In this study, we use data from a 10-year study in 11 different locations in the Netherlands to gauge the effects of climatic and habitat factors on the temporal and spatial variation in questing tick activity. Marked differences in the total number of ticks were found between locations and between years. We investigated which climatic and habitat factors might explain this variation. No effects of climatic factors on the total number of ticks per year were observed, but we found a clear effect of temperature on the onset of tick activity. In addition, we found positive associations between (1) humus layer thickness and densities of all three stages, (2) moss and blackberry abundance and larval densities, and (3) blueberry abundance and densities of larva and nymphs. We conclude that climatic variables do not have a straightforward association with tick density in the Netherlands, but that winter and spring temperatures influence the onset of tick activity. Habitats with apparently similar vegetation types can still differ in tick population densities, indicating that local composition of vegetation and especially of wildlife is likely to contribute considerably to the spatial variation in tick densities.