Dr. Janaki R.R. Alavalapati, Dean
School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences
3301 Forestry and Wildlife Building
602 Duncan Drive
Auburn, Alabama 36849-3418
M.S. Seminar: Shelby Zikeli, Maj. Prof, Dr. Sarah Zohdy
Title: Vector Borne Disease Dynamics of Alabama White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Location: Dixon Conference Room
Date: Monday, May 7, 2018
Time: 8:00 a.m.
Understanding long-term dynamics of ectoparasite populations on hosts is essential to mapping the potential transmission of disease causing agents and pathogens. Blood feeding ectoparasites such as ticks, lice and keds have a great capability to transmit pathogens throughout a wildlife system. We utilized a unique enclosed facility where white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) were present in high-density and increased condition to model a system where late-stage ectoparasite hosts are present in high densities. This mimics systems where populations are fragmented due to human encroachment or through specialized management techniques. We noted a significant increase in ectoparasitism by ticks (p=0.04) over a nine-year study period where deer were collected, and ticks quantified. Beginning in 2016 we implemented a comparison of quantification methods for ectoparasites in addition to ticks and noted that white-tailed deer within the enclosure were more likely to be parasitized by the neotropical deer ked (Lipoptena mazamae) than any tick or louse species. Additionally, analysis of blood collected from sampled deer between 2016 and 2018 by PCR isolated four Bartonella spp. present within the blood of enclosed deer. Together, these works inform us about the potential dynamics of ectoparasite communities long term, and how host populations could affect ectoparasite communities, providing insight into potential disease transmission.