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Winter Temperature Affects the Prevalence of Ticks in an Arctic Seabird
Descamps, S. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(6):e65374
The Arctic is rapidly warming and host-parasite relationships may be modified by such environmental changes. Here, I showed that the average winter temperature in Svalbard, Arctic Norway, explained almost 90% of the average prevalence of ticks in an Arctic seabird, the Brünnich's guillemot Uria lomvia. An increase of 1°C in the average winter temperature at the nesting colony site was associated with a 5% increase in the number of birds infected by these ectoparasites in the subsequent breeding season. Guillemots were generally infested by only a few ticks (=<5) and I found no direct effect of tick presence on their body condition and breeding success. However, the strong effect of average winter temperature described here clearly indicates that tick-seabird relationships in the Arctic may be strongly affected by ongoing climate warming.


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