Spatial proximity and asynchronous refuge sharing networks both explain patterns of tick genetic relatedness among lizards, but in different years

Caroline K. Wohlfeil, Stephanie S. Godfrey, Stephan T. Leu, Jessica Clayton, Michael G. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

A major question for understanding the ecology of parasite infections and diseases in wildlife populations concerns the transmission pathways among hosts. Network models are increasingly used to model the transmission of infections among hosts – however, few studies have integrated host behaviour and genetic relatedness of the parasites transmitted between hosts. In a study of the Australian sleepy lizard Tiliqua rugosa and its three-host ixodid tick (Bothriocroton hydrosauri), we asked if patterns of genetic relatedness among ticks were best explained by spatial proximity or the host transmission network. Using synchronous GPS locations of over 50 adult lizards at 10 min intervals across the three-month activity period, over 2 years, we developed two alternative parasite transmission networks. One alternative was based on the spatial proximity of lizards (at the centre of their home ranges), and the other was based on the frequency of asynchronous shared refuge use between pairs of lizards. In each year, adult ticks were removed from lizards and their genotypes were determined at four polymorphic microsatellite loci. Adult ticks collected from the same host were more related to each other than ticks from different hosts. Similarly, adult ticks collected from different lizards had a higher relatedness if those lizards had a shorter path length connecting them on each of the two networks we explored. The predictors of tick relatedness differed between years. In the first year, the asynchronous shared refuges network was the stronger predictor of tick relatedness, whereas in year two, the spatial proximity-based network was the stronger predictor of tick relatedness. We speculate on how changing environmental conditions might change the relative importance of alternative processes driving the transmission of parasites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-501
Number of pages9
JournalAustral Ecology
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020

Keywords

  • asynchronous shared refuge
  • Bothriocroton hydrosauri
  • lizard
  • parasite transmission
  • social network
  • spatial proximity
  • tick

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