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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: History and complexity in tick-host dynamics: discrepancies between 'real' and 'visible' tick populations
Author(s): Dobson, Andrew
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Keywords: Ticks
Tick-host dynamics
Population modelling
Issue Date: 19-May-2014
Citation: Dobson A (2014) History and complexity in tick-host dynamics: discrepancies between 'real' and 'visible' tick populations, Parasites and Vectors, 7, Art. No.: 231.
Abstract: Background: Numerical responses of ticks to changes in densities of their hosts can be complex and apparently unpredictable. Manipulations even of deterministic models can produce counter-intuitive results, including tick populations that either rise or fall under increasing host densities, depending on initial conditions. Methods: In this paper I use an established simulation model to demonstrate a wide range of numerical responses to different scenarios of host changes, and to examine the basic mechanisms that drive them. Results: The rate and direction of change of host densities affects the extent to which questing tick numbers reflect those of their hosts. Numerical responses differ profoundly between dynamic tick-host systems and those allowed to reach equilibrium. Conclusions: The key to understanding tick-host dynamics is to understand the difference between ‘real' and ‘visible' tick populations. An appreciation of the implications of this difference - and of the conditions that influence it - will benefit the effective interpretation of field data.
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Rights: © 2014 Dobson; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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