University of New Hampshire
Mentor: Dr. Peter Pekins, UNH Department of Natural Resources & the Environment
Predicting Winter Tick Abundance on Moose in New Hampshire
The life history of most mammals is affected by parasites. The winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus) is a parasite that may have debilitating effects on moose (Alces alces) in northern New Hampshire. Because these ticks cannot survive winter without a host, they live most of their life cycle on moose from Fall-Spring. Severe infestations of winter tick on moose can cause high calf mortality in spring due to acute anemia, and it is presumed that productivity of yearling and adult cows declines.
Further, global warming may increase the abundance of winter tick because survival of adult female ticks is influenced by the presence or absence of snow cover in spring, and questing time, by larvae in autumn, is influenced by ambient temperatures. This research aims to predict yearly tick infestations by analyzing tick abundance on moose hide samples collected in the Fall and comparing such results to the relative tick loads of moose the following Spring.