Living in a spatially structured environment: evolutionary ecology of seabird-parasite interactions

Updated 2004-02-18

The aim of this research program is to examine the response of animal populations to environmental variability at different spatial scales. We attempt to determine how individuals respond to the spatial heterogeneity of their environment, and what are the consequences of this response for the dynamics of subdivided populations. Specifically, we consider an ecological system involving biotic interactions at three levels: seabirds, their tick _Ixodes uriae_, and the microparasite _Borrelia burgdorferi_ sensu lato (Lyme disease agent). Colonies of seabirds represent discrete entities, within and among which parasites can circulate. Our previous work on this system in the norwegian arctic has enable us to show that (1) host dispersal can be affected by local conditions, (2) seabird tick populations are specialised among different host species, namely between sympatric kittiwakes _Rissa tridactyla_ and puffins _Fratercula arctica_, (3) in the kittiwake, females transmit antibodies against _Borrelia burgdorferi_ when their chicks have a high probability to be exposed to the tick vector. We propose to combine different approaches, incorporating field surveys and experiments and population genetic studies (of hosts and parasites), in order to better understand the role of local interactions and dispersal in the dynamics of such a system. The research program implies collaborations with researchers from other french groups, as well as with Canadian (Queen’s University) and Norwegian colleagues (from NINA and the University of Tromsø).

Time frame

Project time span
1998 - 2999
Data collection
not specified
Data processing
not specified
Data reporting
not specified

Contact information

Contact person
Laboratoire d'Ecologie CNRS-UMR 7625 Université Pierre & Marie Curie 7 Quai Quai St Bernard F-75005 Paris, France
+33 1 44 27 32 13
+33 1 44 27 35 16
Other project contacts
Dr Karen McCOY (Queen's University, Canada) Dr Torkild TVERAA (NINA, Norway)

Parameters and Media

Not specified


Regions studied
Stations or areas where observations are made

Hornoeya, Eastern Finnmark

Data availability

References to key publications (or planned publications) and data reports
Boulinier, T., McCoy, K.D. & Sorci, G. 2001. Dispersal and parasitism. In Dispersal. Clobert, J., Danchin, E., Dhondt, A. & Nichols, J.D. (eds). Oxford University Press: 169-179. Gasparini, J., McCoy, K.D., Haussy, C., Tveraa, T. & Boulinier, T. 2001. Induced maternal response to the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burdgorferi sensu lato in a colonial seabird, the Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London B 1467: 647-650. McCoy, K.D., Boulinier, T., Tirard, C. & Michalakis, Y. 2001. Host specificity of a generalist parasite: genetic evidence of sympatric host races in Ixodes uriae. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 14: 395-405. Boulinier, T., Yoccoz, N.G., McCoy, K.D., Erikstad, K.E. & Tveraa, T. 2002. Testing the effect of conspecific reproductive success on dispersal and recruitment decisions in a colonial bird: design issues. Journal of Applied Statistics 29: 509-520. McCoy, K.D., Boulinier, T., Schjørring, S. & Michalakis, Y. 2002. Local adaptation of an ectoparasite Ixodes uriae to its seabird host. Evolutionary Ecology Research 4: 441-456. McCoy, K.D. & Tirard, C. 2002. Reproductive strategies of the seabird tick Ixodes uriae (Acari: Ixodidae). Journal of Parasitology. Gasparini, J., McCoy, K.D., Tveraa, T. & Boulinier, T. 2002. Related concentrations of specific immunoglobulins against the Lyme disease agent Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in eggs, young and adults of the kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla). Ecology Letters 5: 519-524. McCoy, K.D. Boulinier, T., Tirard, C. & Michalakis, Y. 2003. Differential host-associated population structure of the seabird tick Ixodes uriae. Evolution 57: 288-296. McCoy, K.D., Tirard, C. & Y. Michalakis, Y. 2003. Spatial genetic structure of the ectoparasite Ixodes uriae within breeding cliffs of its colonial seabird host. Heredity 91: 422-429.
Samples/specimens archived in specimen banks?

Methods & Procedures

Not specified

Additional Information

Is this a bi- AND multi-lateral project (i.e. a project involving cooperation between different countries)?
Other institutes involved in the project

NINA, Tromsoe, Norway University of Tromsoe, Tromsoe, Norway Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Is this project reporting to other organizations/programmes?

French Polar Institute (IPEV), France IFB, France

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