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Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes

Steffen Ehrmann, Jaan Liira, Stefanie Gärtner, Karin Hansen, Jörg Brunet, Sara AO Cousins, Marc Deconchat, Guillaume Decocq, Pieter De Frenne UGent, Pallieter De Smedt UGent, et al. (2017) BMC ECOLOGY. 17.
abstract
Background: The castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) transmits infectious diseases such as Lyme borreliosis, which constitutes an important ecosystem disservice. Despite many local studies, a comprehensive understanding of the key drivers of tick abundance at the continental scale is still lacking. We analyze a large set of environmental factors as potential drivers of I. ricinus abundance. Our multi-scale study was carried out in deciduous forest fragments dispersed within two contrasting rural landscapes of eight regions, along a macroclimatic gradient stretching from southern France to central Sweden and Estonia. We surveyed the abundance of I. ricinus, plant community composition, forest structure and soil properties and compiled data on landscape structure, macroclimate and habitat properties. We used linear mixed models to analyze patterns and derived the relative importance of the significant drivers. Results: Many drivers had, on their own, either a moderate or small explanatory value for the abundance of I. ricinus, but combined they explained a substantial part of variation. This emphasizes the complex ecology of I. ricinus and the relevance of environmental factors for tick abundance. Macroclimate only explained a small fraction of variation, while properties of macro- and microhabitat, which buffer macroclimate, had a considerable impact on tick abundance. The amount of forest and the composition of the surrounding rural landscape were additionally important drivers of tick abundance. Functional (dispersules) and structural (density of tree and shrub layers) properties of the habitat patch played an important role. Various diversity metrics had only a small relative importance. Ontogenetic tick stages showed pronounced differences in their response. The abundance of nymphs and adults is explained by the preceding stage with a positive relationship, indicating a cumulative effect of drivers. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the ecosystem disservices of tick-borne diseases, via the abundance of ticks, strongly depends on habitat properties and thus on how humans manage ecosystems from the scale of the microhabitat to the landscape. This study stresses the need to further evaluate the interaction between climate change and ecosystem management on I. ricinus abundance.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Climate gradient, Ecological niche, Ecosystem disservice, Functional ecology, Habitat composition, Landscape composition, Land-use change, smallFOREST, Tick distribution, BURGDORFERI SENSU-LATO, AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES, FUNCTIONAL TRAITS, TICK, IXODIDAE, HABITAT, ACARI, ECOLOGY, CLIMATE, DEER
journal title
BMC ECOLOGY
BMC Ecol.
volume
17
article number
31
pages
14 pages
Web of Science type
Article
Web of Science id
000409206100001
ISSN
1472-6785
DOI
10.1186/s12898-017-0141-0
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0)
id
8530702
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-8530702
date created
2017-09-08 13:02:23
date last changed
2018-01-03 15:51:36
@article{8530702,
  abstract     = {Background: The castor bean tick (Ixodes ricinus) transmits infectious diseases such as Lyme borreliosis, which constitutes an important ecosystem disservice. Despite many local studies, a comprehensive understanding of the key drivers of tick abundance at the continental scale is still lacking. We analyze a large set of environmental factors as potential drivers of I. ricinus abundance. Our multi-scale study was carried out in deciduous forest fragments dispersed within two contrasting rural landscapes of eight regions, along a macroclimatic gradient stretching from southern France to central Sweden and Estonia. We surveyed the abundance of I. ricinus, plant community composition, forest structure and soil properties and compiled data on landscape structure, macroclimate and habitat properties. We used linear mixed models to analyze patterns and derived the relative importance of the significant drivers. 
Results: Many drivers had, on their own, either a moderate or small explanatory value for the abundance of I. ricinus, but combined they explained a substantial part of variation. This emphasizes the complex ecology of I. ricinus and the relevance of environmental factors for tick abundance. Macroclimate only explained a small fraction of variation, while properties of macro- and microhabitat, which buffer macroclimate, had a considerable impact on tick abundance. The amount of forest and the composition of the surrounding rural landscape were additionally important drivers of tick abundance. Functional (dispersules) and structural (density of tree and shrub layers) properties of the habitat patch played an important role. Various diversity metrics had only a small relative importance. Ontogenetic tick stages showed pronounced differences in their response. The abundance of nymphs and adults is explained by the preceding stage with a positive relationship, indicating a cumulative effect of drivers. 
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the ecosystem disservices of tick-borne diseases, via the abundance of ticks, strongly depends on habitat properties and thus on how humans manage ecosystems from the scale of the microhabitat to the landscape. This study stresses the need to further evaluate the interaction between climate change and ecosystem management on I. ricinus abundance.},
  articleno    = {31},
  author       = {Ehrmann, Steffen and Liira, Jaan and G{\"a}rtner, Stefanie and Hansen, Karin and Brunet, J{\"o}rg and Cousins, Sara AO and Deconchat, Marc and Decocq, Guillaume and De Frenne, Pieter and De Smedt, Pallieter and Diekmann, Martin and Gallet-Moron, Emilie and Kolb, Annette and Lenoir, Jonathan and Lindgren, Jessica and Naaf, Tobias and Paal, Taavi and Vald{\'e}s, Alicia and Verheyen, Kris and Wulf, Monika and Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael},
  issn         = {1472-6785},
  journal      = {BMC ECOLOGY},
  keyword      = {Climate gradient,Ecological niche,Ecosystem disservice,Functional ecology,Habitat composition,Landscape composition,Land-use change,smallFOREST,Tick distribution,BURGDORFERI SENSU-LATO,AGRICULTURAL LANDSCAPES,FUNCTIONAL TRAITS,TICK,IXODIDAE,HABITAT,ACARI,ECOLOGY,CLIMATE,DEER},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {14},
  title        = {Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12898-017-0141-0},
  volume       = {17},
  year         = {2017},
}

Chicago
Ehrmann, Steffen, Jaan Liira, Stefanie Gärtner, Karin Hansen, Jörg Brunet, Sara AO Cousins, Marc Deconchat, et al. 2017. “Environmental Drivers of Ixodes Ricinus Abundance in Forest Fragments of Rural European Landscapes.” Bmc Ecology 17.
APA
Ehrmann, S., Liira, J., Gärtner, S., Hansen, K., Brunet, J., Cousins, S. A., Deconchat, M., et al. (2017). Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes. BMC ECOLOGY, 17.
Vancouver
1.
Ehrmann S, Liira J, Gärtner S, Hansen K, Brunet J, Cousins SA, et al. Environmental drivers of Ixodes ricinus abundance in forest fragments of rural European landscapes. BMC ECOLOGY. 2017;17.
MLA
Ehrmann, Steffen, Jaan Liira, Stefanie Gärtner, et al. “Environmental Drivers of Ixodes Ricinus Abundance in Forest Fragments of Rural European Landscapes.” BMC ECOLOGY 17 (2017): n. pag. Print.