Term of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

James H. Oliver, Jr.

Committee Member 1

Richard L. Osburn

Committee Member 2

Sturgis McKeever


An extensive field study was undertaken in Bulloch County (Ga.) to determine: (1) tick species composition, (2) seasonal abundance and activity of individual tick species, (3) natural host-tick associations, and (4) prevalence of tick-transmitted protozoan blood parasites in mammals. Field data were supplemented with laboratory rearings of some tick species. Methods of tick collection included: (1) live-trapping of potential host animals, (2) drag sampling, (3) carbon dioxide attraction, (4) checking livestock, road kills, nests, and burrows, (5) samples from veterinarians.

Twelve tick species (Ixodidae) were identified; of those, Ixodes neotomae was collected from Georgia for the first time. Immature Ixodes affinis were recorded for the first time and host records established. Laboratory rearing data for this species were also obtained. Ixodes scapularis and Dermacentor variabilis had the widest host ranges and were the most abundant ticks collected. They were the most economically important tick species collected in Bulloch County.

Of 55 animal species checked, 24 mammal, bird, and reptile species were found to be parasitized by ticks. Opossums (Didelphis marsupialis) and cotton mice (Peromyscus gossypinus) were the most commonly captured wild animals. White-tailed deer (Dama virginianus) harbored the greatest number of tick species (5).

Amblyomma americanum, Amblyomma tuberculatum, and Dermacentor variabilis were attracted to carbon dioxide traps, and A. americanum, D. variabilis, Ixodes brunneus, and Ixodes scapularis were collected on drags during questing activity. The 12 tick species encountered in this investigation are discussed in detail.

Intraerythrocytic protozoan parasites (probably Theileria cervi or Babesia odocoilei) were identified in 100% of blood smears from whitetailed deer. Babesia (probably B. lotori) were found in blood smears from raccoons (Procyon lotor). Low intensities of parasitemia of Babesia-like ring-stage trophozoites, possibly B. microti. were found in cotton mice and golden mice (Ochrotomys nuttalli). Paired protozoan forms were also found in red blood cells of opossums.

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