Determination of Stable Isotope Analysis as a Valid Method for Identifying Tick Blood Meals Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/hm50tt86z

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  • In order to decrease Lyme disease prevalence it is crucial to understand the role of the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis, and its hosts within the ecosystem. This study sought to validate stable isotope analysis as a method of determining tick blood meals by comparing the δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N of the mammal host to the blood ingested by the tick. The hosts included white-footed mice, Peromyscus leucopus, eastern chipmunk, Tamias striatus, and eastern gray squirrel, Scuirus carolinensis. The isotopic discrimination factors were found for each species and can be used in future studies. The white-footed mouse based discrimination factors (-4.23 δ¹³C for blood-adult tick and -3.10 δ¹⁵N for blood-nymph tick) were used to correct the spacing for all samples. While both adult and nymph ticks consistently appeared at elevated nitrogen levels, there was not a major difference in the ticks' δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N relative to the host. It would be difficult to determine with confidence what mammal host a tick fed on based on isotopic discrimination.
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