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Genetic diversity and host specificity in the winter tick - Dermacentor albipictus (Acari: Ixodidae) Open Access


Other title
Genetic diversity
Dermacentor albipictus
Ixodid tick
Host specificity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Leo, Sarah S. T.
Supervisor and department
Sperling, Felix (Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Pybus, Margo (Alberta Sustainable Resources Fish and Wildlife Division)
Kowalewska-Grochowska, Kinga (Medical Microbiology and Immunology)
Keddie, Andrew (Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences
Systematics and Evolution
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Dermacentor albipictus (Packard) is an obligate, hematophagous ectoparasite commonly found on large ungulates in North America. At high infestation levels, the winter tick is known to cause severe pathology and may transmit diseases to its hosts. Knowledge of the genetic diversity in this parasite will allow us to accurately identify the tick to species and better understand how it interacts with its hosts and surroundings. In this thesis, I developed and used 14 microsatellite loci to re-examine the species boundaries and to investigate host specificity in this tick. I confirmed that D. albipictus consists of a single species but exhibits extensive genetic variation that is more associated with geography than host species. Information on species boundaries, geographically-associated genetic variation and extent of host specificity in winter ticks can have important implications in pest control and further research is desirable.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Leo SST, Davis C, and Sperling FAH. 2012. Characterization of 14 microsatellite loci developed for Dermacentor albipictus and cross-species amplification in D. andersoni and D. variabilis (Acari: Ixodidae). Conservation Genetics Resources. 4 (2): 379-382.

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