Icon for: Tammi Johnson

TAMMI JOHNSON

University of Montana
Years in Grad School: 6

Judges’ Queries and Presenter’s Replies

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Presentation Discussion
  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Faculty
    May 21, 2012 | 09:56 p.m.

    Very interesting. I don’t know anything about this organism, but “nidicolous” suggests fairly slow dispersal — does Ornithodoros have a wide array of hosts? How does it interact with humans? And does the range of these ticks overlap with areas affected by bark-beetle die-back, which I would think would rapidly decrease acceptable habitat for the ticks?

  • Icon for: Tammi Johnson

    Tammi Johnson

    Presenter
    May 22, 2012 | 12:13 p.m.

    Hi Brian, great question! Unfortunately, almost nothing is known regarding the disperal capabilities of Ornithodoros ticks. O. hermsi has been shown to be a generalist feeder and is known to feed on numerous species of rodents including tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipminks, voles and deer mice. These ticks have also been known to feed on birds and bats, which may serve as a dispersal mechanism for the ticks. Humans typically come in contact with these ticks in rustic settings such as mountain cabins. Undoubtably the range of O. hermsi and the range of the devastation caused by the pine beetles overlap. The beetle-killed trees may decrease habitat for some of the hosts of O. hermsi (tree squirrels), however, becuase so many rodents can potentially serve as hosts for O. hermsi, I am not sure that beetle kill will completely eliminate habitat for these ticks. I hope this helps to answer your questions. Thanks for asking!

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