Single, tick-ridden pheasants are more mobile.
© David Kjaer/BBC wild
Disinfecting male birds might not help curb Lyme disease.
Treating male pheasants against the ticks that carry Lyme disease might do more harm than good. Tick-free males are more sexually attractive, so untreated males are forced to roam farther in search of mates, possibly spreading ticks as they go.
A blood-dwelling bacterium called Borrelia causes Lyme disease, famed for its arthritic symptoms. Ticks spread the bug when they bite rodents, birds, deer and humans.
In Britain these common birds frequently come into contact with gamekeepers and hunters. Every July, about 20 million farm-reared pheasants are released into the British countryside as fodder for the winter shooting season, which ends today, February 1st.
Hoodless and his colleagues found that pheasants’ ticks don’t pose a direct threat to people. The birds tend to harbour young ticks unlikely to bite us. "There’s no risk to humans from handling dead pheasants," says Hoodless.
But as tick nurseries, pheasants could be crucial to the spread of Lyme disease. Control measures could be justified in woodlands with a combination of pheasants, deer - which host adult ticks - and good public access, warns Hoodless.
But it’s "probably unwise" to disinfect male pheasants, says Hoodless. Males treated with a tick-killing chemical had larger wattles - the red fleshy appendage on the head, his team found.
This makes them irresistible to the opposite sex, with top males attracting a harem of three or more females. Sexual fulfilment quelled males’ wanderlust - they had smaller territories and tended to move around less.
But if males miss out on treatment - a distinct possibility in the wild - they are less attractive. Unable to compete with their tick-free peers they wander in search of love, the team found.
"It shows the subtle effect of ticks on their hosts," says Ostfeld. "Treating some males might induce others to roam more widely", spreading ticks as they go.
Curing females might be a better option. Hoodless’ unpublished results show that tick infestations reduce females’ reproductive output. Estate managers are keen to establish self-sustaining wild populations because "they are perceived to give better shooting", Hoodless says.
JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service
Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine