Ticks, hosts, and Ticks, Hosts, and Urbanisation: The Ecology of the Australian Paralysis Tick Ixodes Holocyclus in Sydney, NSW: the ecology of the Australian paralysis tick Ixodes holocyclus in Sydney, NSW
Ticks represent significant public health threats globally, however their complex ecology makes control and management difficult. This is doubly true in Australia, where almost nothing is known of the ecology of the Australian paralysis tick Ixodes holocyclus. My PhD thesis investigates the ecology of I. holocyclus, and explores the interactions between I. holocyclus and possible host species near urban areas, the climatic and environmental niche that I. holocyclus occupies in Australia, and a public health dilemma that has driven renewed interest in I. holocyclus: the question of Australian Lyme disease. I found that there is little support for common conceptions that native bandicoots are the primary drivers of urban tick populations, and that while bandicoots are likely to be important, so too are introduced animals. By using species distribution models, I show that the range of I. holocyclus will likely contract with climate change. And by using media analysis, I show that Australian concerns about possible Lyme disease originate in media coverage of a tennis player getting the disease. By incorporating tick-host ecology, tick landscape ecology, and analysis of media coverage, my thesis provides an in-depth exploration of fundamental aspects of I. holocyclus ecology, and demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in understanding the ecology of parasites. I have shown that both native and introduced animals can support I. holocyclus populations near cities, yet further investigation is needed to understand how this species interacts with the various communities of host species and environmental conditions across its vast geographic range.