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Effect of the association of cattle and rusa deer Cervus timorensis russa on populations of cattle ticks (Boophilus microplus)

Barré N., Bianchi M., De Garine-Wichatitsky M.. 2002. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 969 : p. 280-289.

The wild population of rusa deer (Cervus timorensis russa) in New Caledonia (South Pacific) is nearly as large as the cattle population. The cattle tick is widespread and occurs all year round. Opinions are divided on the role of deer in the biological cycle of the tick: i) Do they maintain a sustainable tick population that is secondarily available for cattle? ii) Do they decrease the infestation of the environment by collecting larvae on the pasture, but preventing their development to the engorged female stage? or iii) Do they contribute to both situations? An experiment was conducted in three groups of pastures, each seeded with 450 000 larvae/ha and allowed to be grazed only by cattle, only by deer, and by a mixed herd of deer and cattle (deer representing 30% of the biomass), at approximately the same stocking rate (470-510 kg/ha). After 15 months of exposure, the tick burden per weight unit of host was 42 ticks/kg for the steers-only herd and 0.01/kg for the deer-only herd. The steers in the "mixed group" harbored 7 times fewer ticks (6.2/kg) than the cattle-only group, and the deer in the "mixed group", 130 times more (1.3/kg) than the deer-only group. Five emergency acaricide treatments had to be applied in the cattle-only group, but none in the other groups. The long-term sustainability of a viable tick population on deer as well as the potential benefit resulting from the association of deer and susceptible cattle in the tick control of cattle are highlighted. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : metastigmata; animal sauvage; bétail; boophilus microplus; cervus; nouvelle-calédonie

Thématique : Organismes nuisibles des animaux

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