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Tick project at Lista Bird Observatory

Figure 1
Figure 1
There are three clades of ticks in Northern Europe, which are called GB, EU and WN. They are respectively magenta, green and yellow in the pie charts in the image.

Figure 2
Figure 2
A, B, C, D, E and F are groups of organisms, divided into 3 clades (groups that consist of a common ancestor and all its lineal descendants, and represents a single "branch").

Last spring, Lista Bird Observatory examined 215 birds and collected 277 ticks from Blackbirds and Robins, and ticks from the area at Lista. This is part of a new study, conducted by Dr. Gunnar Hasle, who studies to what extent ticks and tick-borne pathogens are transported by birds over geographical barriers.


By Aïda López & Gunnar Hasle

Spreading of genes affects the dynamics of ticks and tick-borne pathogens. There is ample evidence that ticks parasitize birds and thus are potentially being transported over open sea and mountain ranges.

In 2011, Gunnar Hasle took a doctorate on the transport of ticks and tick-borne pathogens on northbound migratory birds. A major methodological problem that he never managed to solve was that it was not possible to confirm whether a tick found on a bird had been transported from another place or if the tick had arrived to the bird after it had landed in Norway.

Hasle's partners have recently developed a genetic tool based on mitochondrial DNA and found that there are three clades in Northern Europe: Great Britain (GB), Continental Europe (EU) and Western Norway (WN) (see Figure 1, magenta, green and yellow respectively). This means that when a tick is examined, it is possible to say where it probably has come from.

In biology and biological taxonomy, a clade is a group that includes a common ancestor and all descendants (living and extinct) of this progeny. By using mitochondrial DNA, which is stable for several thousand generations, it is possible to separate the clades from each other (see Figure 2).

In spring 2017, Lista Bird Observatory has collected 277 ticks from Blackbirds and Robins, and collected local ticks in field at Lista. The current study is based on the fact that blackbirds coming to Lista mainly fly across the North Sea, and that red-throats do it through Jutland. It should be possible to find a clear pattern on the tick genes, with GB bells on black trophies and EU cloves on reddishes, and ticks collected in the List on Lista should have a WN clade. If the results are like this, then it will validate the findings from Hale's doctorate. In addition, this can be further developed into a new tool for ornithology, to find out where migratory birds have come from.



Ringing numbers
This season3187
Today0
Detailed log

Reportasje fra Lista FS
i Aftenposten

Seasonal deviation
Eurasian Jay9-99%
European Reed Warbler3-96%
Hen Harrier2-96%
Northern Fulmar76-96%
Northern Shoveler1-95%
Parrot Crossbill726+7590%
Black-tailed Godwit66+445%
Mute Swan249+408%
Crested Tit230+398%
Ruff1926+305%
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Siste 5 på siden
  LISTA FUGLEFESTIVAL 2017
  Tick project at Lista Bird Observatory
  Fuglefestival 2.-3.sep. PROGRAM
  Report from spring 2017
  Population monitoring at Jomfruland and Lista Bird Observatories in 2016

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Lista Fuglestasjon
Fyrveien 6
NO-4563 Borhaug
post@listafuglestasjon.no Tlf: 949 86 793