MEPS 459:109-120 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09749

Population genetic structure and colonisation of the western Antarctic Peninsula by the seabird tick Ixodes uriae

K. D. McCoy1,*, P. Beis1, A. Barbosa2,7, J. J. Cuervo2,7, W. R. Fraser3, J. González-Solís4, E. Jourdain5,8, M. Poisbleau6, P. Quillfeldt6, E. Léger1, M. Dietrich1

1Maladies Infectieuses et Vecteurs: Ecologie, Génétique, Evolution et Contrôle, UMR UM1 UM2 CNRS 5290—UR IRD 224, Centre IRD, 34394 Montpellier, France
2Dept. Ecología Funcional y Evolutiva, Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, CSIC, 04120 Almería, Spain
3Polar Oceans Research Group, Sheridan, Montana 59749, USA
4Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio) and Dept. Biologia Animal, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona 08028, Spain
5Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology, Linnaeus University Kalmar, SE-391 82 Kalmar, Sweden
6Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Vogelwarte Radolfzell, 78315 Radolfzell, Germany
7Present address: Dept. Ecología Evolutiva, Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, CSIC, 28006 Madrid, Spain
8Present address: INRA, UR346, 63122 Saint Genès Champanelle, France

ABSTRACT: Recent observations on the western Antarctic Peninsula have suggested that changing climatic conditions may be increasing pressure on breeding seabirds due to higher exploitation rates by the tick Ixodes uriae. Using data from 8 microsatellite markers and ticks from 6 Pygoscelis spp. colonies, we employed a population genetics approach to specifically test the hypothesis that I. uriae is expanding south-westward along the peninsula from the Subantarctic region. Contrary to expectations, tick genetic diversity was high within all colonies, and no remaining signal of colonisation events was evident. Although significant geographic genetic structure occurred among ticks from different colonies, these ectoparasites tended to belong to 2 major genetic groups, one found principally in south-western locations (Palmer Station area) and the other in more north-eastern areas (South Shetland Islands). More central colonies showed a mixture of ticks from each genetic group, suggesting that this area represents a hybridisation zone of ticks from 2 distinct origins. A subsequent clustering analysis, including ticks from 2 Subantarctic locations, did not reveal the source population for the northern peninsula group. Overall, our data refute the hypothesis of a recent south-westward expansion of I. uriae along the peninsula and suggest that this tick has been present at more southern latitudes for an extended period of time. Further studies on the distribution and genetic characteristics of this ectoparasite around Antarctica are now required to better understand the colonisation process and predict how changing environmental conditions may affect its presence and diversity in seabird colonies.


KEY WORDS: Climate change · Host−parasite interactions · Invasion · Pygoscelis · Seabird population dynamics


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Cite this article as: McCoy KD, Beis P, Barbosa A, Cuervo JJ and others (2012) Population genetic structure and colonisation of the western Antarctic Peninsula by the seabird tick Ixodes uriae. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 459:109-120. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps09749

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