Open Access

The first German map of georeferenced ixodid tick locations

  • Franz Rubel1Email author,
  • Katharina Brugger1,
  • Masyar Monazahian2,
  • Birgit Habedank3,
  • Hans Dautel4,
  • Sandra Leverenz4 and
  • Olaf Kahl4
Parasites & Vectors20147:477

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-014-0477-7

Received: 21 August 2014

Accepted: 4 October 2014

Published: 10 October 2014

Abstract

Background

Georeferenced locations of ixodid ticks are required to depict the observed distribution of species. Further, they are used as input data for species distribution models also known as niche models. The latter were applied to describe current and future (projected) tick distributions. Beside model assumptions and selected climate parameters, the number of georeferenced tick locations available as a digital dataset is of fundamental importance for the reliability of such models. For Germany, however, no comprehensive dataset of ixodid tick species exists. The goal of this study was to put together all the available information on ixodid tick locations in Germany to produce such a digital dataset and to visualize it in a map.

Findings

A total of 2,044 georeferenced locations of ixodid ticks in Germany were compiled from two existing datasets (altogether 993 locations) and an extensive literature study (1,051 locations). The resulting digital dataset comprises the following tick species: Ixodes ricinus (1,855 locations), Ixodes apronophorus (1), Ixodes frontalis (1), Ixodes hexagonus (1), Ixodes trianguliceps (4), Dermacentor marginatus (77), Dermacentor reticulatus (96), Haemaphysalis concinna (8) and Hyalomma marginatum (1). The data were used to draw a tick map for Germany, showing I. ricinus occurring in the whole federal territory, while D. marginatus has been restricted to the climatically favoured region of the Rhine valley. Clustered locations of D. reticulatus were also documented in the Rhine valley as well as in Berlin and its vicinity.

Conclusions

The introduced map depicts for the first time the available geographical coordinates of ixodid tick locations in Germany. The digital dataset used to draw the map is provided to the scientific community as a basis for further investigations such as species distribution modelling.

Keywords

Ixodid ticks Ixodes Dermacentor Haemaphysalis Hyalomma Distribution map Dataset

Background

Tick species distribution changes according to climate, land use patterns and forest management [1]. Therefore, it is of particular interest to develop scenarios on future distributions of ticks and tick-borne diseases based on climate models and the available knowledge of tick ecology and physiology. Among other methods, species distribution models reconstructing the climatic niche were applied. They describe the potential distribution of a given species, which may be projected into the future by using climate model predictions. For example, the current and future distribution of Ixodes ricinus in Europe was investigated [2], using the geographical coordinates of I. ricinus locations from another study [3]. Beside model assumptions and selected climate parameters, the number of georeferenced tick locations available as a digital dataset is of fundamental importance for the reliability of modelling results. They comprise distributions of tick species as well as the distribution patterns of tick-borne diseases such as tick-borne encephalitis, Lyme borreliosis [4], babesiosis [5],[6], rickettsiosis [7] and others [8].

Digital datasets covering Europe were provided by Estrada-Peña et al. [3] and GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility [9]. Both datasets feature major data gaps especially for Germany. The same is true for Belgium, where a recently published study on the distribution of ixodid tick species [10] is not included in those two datasets so far. The provision of exact geographical coordinates of all the described locations of ticks and tick-borne pathogens should be standard in all modern papers. Georeferences may be included in digital datasets and used in subsequent studies, especially in those investigating the spatio-temporal distributions of ticks on a continental scale. For Germany, however, such comprehensive data as presented for Belgium [10] are missing so far. To reduce these shortcomings a literature study on georeferenced tick locations was performed. Results comprise of coordinates extracted from recent papers, extracted from restricted papers mainly published in German language, digitized from historical hand-drawn maps and added from unpublished material, i.e. kindly provided by colleagues.

Digitized locations, of course, are of lower accuracy than locations described by geographical coordinates determined by GPS in the field. Thus, accuracy measures were given for all data referenced in Table 1. It is distinguished between high (h), medium (m), low (l) and unknown (u) accuracy. A high accuracy (±30 m) was allocated to coordinates given in degrees, minutes and seconds or in decimal degrees with at least 4-5 relevant decimal places. A medium accuracy (±1 km) was assumed for coordinates given in degrees and minutes or in decimal degrees with at least 2-3 relevant decimal places. A medium accuracy was also assumed for ticks collected from animals (e.g. deer, dogs) or humans and for coordinates digitized from local maps. Coordinates digitized from regional maps were classified as low-accuracy data (±10 km).
Table 1

Number of georeferenced ixodid tick sampling sites in Germany compiled in this study

No. Sites

Species

Accuracy

References

661

I. ricinus

h

MM, OK

1

I. ricinus

h

[4]

13

I. ricinus

h

[11]

217

I. ricinus

u

[9],[12]

8

I. ricinus

h

[13]

10

I. ricinus

h

[14]

776

I. ricinus

u

[3]

6

I. ricinus

h

[15]

6

I. ricinus

h

[16],[17]

20

I. ricinus

h

[18]

9

I. ricinus

h

[19]

5

I. ricinus

h

[20]

58

I. ricinus

l

[21]

64

I. ricinus

l

[22]

1

I. ricinus

m

[23]

1

I.apronophorus

m

[23]

1

I. frontalis

h

[24]

1

I. hexagonus

h

[4]

3

I. trianguliceps

h

[16],[17]

1

I. trianguliceps

m

[23]

2

D. marginatus

h

[25]

75

D. marginatus

l

[26]

6

D. reticulatus

h

HD, MM

2

D. reticulatus

h

[11]

4

D. reticulatus

h

[13]

6

D. reticulatus

h

[27]

10

D. reticulatus

m

[28]

2

D. reticulatus

h

[16],[17]

28

D. reticulatus

h

[7]

242

D. reticulatus

h

[25]

2

D. reticulatus

m

[5],[6]

9

D. reticulatus

l

[29]

2

D. reticulatus

l

[22]

1

D. reticulatus

l

[30]

3

Ha. concinna

h

HD, MM

1

Ha. concinna

h

[4]

1

Ha. concinna

h

[13]

3

Ha. concinna

l

[22]

1

Hy. marginatum

h

[31]

2,044

Total

  

Sampling sites not referenced were contributed by the authors MM (639 sites in Lower Saxony), HD and OK (31 sites in Berlin and in the federal state of Brandenburg).

Findings

A total of 2,044 geographical coordinates for Ixodes, Dermacentor, Haemaphysalis and Hyalomma tick locations was included (Table 1) and depicted in a map (Figure 1). These coordinates include 1,855 I. ricinus locations, by far the most widespread and abundant ixodid tick species in Germany, occurring in the whole federal territory. A large number of georeferenced locations were taken from two already existing datasets. The first dataset, the free open access to biodiversity data collection of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility[9],[12], lists 217 I. ricinus locations. The second dataset [3] comprises 776 I. ricinus locations. These datasets complement one another very well. Duplicates (exact matches) within and between the datasets were eliminated. Further, 661 I. ricinus locations were added from recent tick monitoring projects, 79 locations were extracted from the literature and 122 locations were digitized from a hand-drawn map [22]. Finally, 8 locations of rare Ixodes species were included, among them the first record of I. frontalis in Germany [24]. The number of findings of rare Ixodes species is low because in most tick monitoring programs they were not explicitly determined.
Figure 1

Map of georeferenced hard tick locations in Germany.

Two further at least regionally abundant tick species in Germany are Dermacentor marginatus and Dermacentor reticulatus. For D. marginatus, however, only two locations specified by geographical coordinates were provided [25]. Therefore, a historical hand-drawn map [26] was digitized to depict the well-known sources in the Rhine Valley. The latter is characterized by a warmer and dryer climate than usually found in Germany. It may be described as an extension of the Mediterranean climate to the north, a suitable habitat for the more thermophilic D. marginatus. The locations of D. marginatus were confirmed in 1990 by two of the authors, O. Kahl and H. Dautel, who found high numbers of D. marginatus in the region of Hammelburg (50.1° N, 9.9° O), unfortunately without documenting coordinates of the sampling sites. D. reticulatus, in Germany known as the marsh tick, was found in various habitats such as wastelands and meadows in many parts of Germany, except for most parts of northern Germany. It is particularly widespread and common in the federal states of Brandenburg and Berlin [7],[25]. Further locations cluster in the Rhine Valley [25] and in the Saarland [28].

Additionally, 8 georeferenced locations of the relict tick Haemaphysalis concinna and 1 location of Hyalomma marginatum, the first report of an adult individual of that species in Germany [31], were included in the data collection. Further ixodid tick species listed for the fauna of Germany comprise Ixodes arboricola, I. canisuga, I. lividus, I. uriae, I. vespertilionis and Haemaphysalis punctata[8]. No georeferenced data were available for these species.

Conclusions

A new map of ixodid tick distributions in Germany is presented. The map was exclusively compiled from georeferenced locations, which are provided to the scientific community via a digital dataset (see Additional file 1). The most abundant species are I. ricinus, D. marginatus and D. reticulatus. The first record of a questing adult Hy. marginatum, a tick frequently transported by migratory birds into Germany as a larva or nymph [32], is noteworthy [31]. This unfed female of Hy. marginatum was found on the leg of an ornithologist living in the vicinity of Lake Constance, a well-known resting place for migratory birds at the German-Swiss border. Note that this finding of Hy. marginatum in Germany is not an isolated case. A second adult individual was found in the neighbouring Switzerland [3].

The brown dog tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus, a species complex endemic in the Mediterranean and other warm areas worldwide, was not considered here, although it is frequently introduced to Germany by traveling dogs. Various studies on R. sanguineus in Germany are available. For example, 60 tick-infested dogs, 17 of which had never left Germany, were investigated [33]. The study confirmed 16 small endemic foci in private homes and animal shelters. Nevertheless, no outdoor locations of R. sanguineus have been documented in Germany and in other central or north European countries so far [34].

We know that there are many more non-georeferenced ixodid tick sites described in Germany in the literature and also more ixodid tick species than listed in this study [8],[35]. It is an ongoing project to fill our tick map with old and new georeferenced data to make it even more useful. To document the existing knowledge about past and current tick distributions is an important basis to project current potential distributions and to model future distributions especially of prominent vector tick species.

Authors’ contributions

The study was designed by FR, the data collected and analyzed by FR, SL, BH and KB, the map compiled by KB and the paper written by FR and OK. MM, BH, OK and HD placed their own data. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Additional file

Declarations

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Peter Hagedorn, Martin Pfeffer, Kurt Pfister, Michaela Schulz and Jochen Süss for providing information on their tick sampling sites. The study was performed on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency within the UFOPLAN (FKZ 3713 48 402) and financed by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. Digital data will be archived, supplemented and provided by the Federal Environment Agency.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Institute for Veterinary Public Health, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
(2)
Governmental Institute of Public Health of Lower Saxony
(3)
Section IV 1.4 - Public Health Pest and their Control, Federal Environment Agency
(4)
tick-radar GmbH

References

  1. Medlock JM, Hansford KM, Bormane A: Driving forces for changes in geographical distribution of Ixodes ricinus ticks in Europe. Parasit Vectors. 2013, 6: 1-10.1186/1756-3305-6-1.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Porretta D, Mastrantonio V, Amendolia S, Gaiarsa S, Epis S, Genchi C, Bandi C, Otranto D, Urbanelli S: Effects of global changes on the climatic niche of the tick Ixodes ricinus inferred by species distribution modelling. Parasit Vectors. 2013, 6: 217-10.1186/1756-3305-6-217.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  3. Estrada-Peña A, Farkas R, Jaenson TGT, Koenen F, Madder M, Pascucci I, Salman M, Tarrés-Call J, Jongejan F: Association of environmental traits with the geographic ranges of ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) of medical and veterinary importance in the western Palearctic. A digital data set. Exp Appl Acaro. 2013, 59: 351-366. 10.1007/s10493-012-9600-7.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  4. Faulde MK, Rutenfranz M, Hepke J, Rogge M, Görner A, Keth A: Human tick infestation pattern, tick-bite rate, and associated Borrelia burgdorferi s.l. infection risk during occupational tick exposure at the Seedorf military training area, northwestern Germany. Ticks and Tick-borne Dis. 2014, 5: 594-599. 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2014.04.009.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  5. Zahler M, Loster F, Merkle C, Rinder H, Gothe R: Risk of infection for dogs in Regensburg - A new endemic focus for Babesia canis and Dermacentor reticulatus in Germany (in German). Tierarztl Prax. 2000, 28: 395-398.Google Scholar
  6. Zahler M, Steffenz T, Lutz S, Hähnel W, Rinder H, Gothe R: Babesia canis and Dermacentor reticulatus in Munich - A new endemic focus in Germany (in German). Tierarztl Prax. 2000, 28: 116-120.Google Scholar
  7. Dautel H, Dippel C, Oehme R, Hartelt K, Schettler E: Evidence for an increased geographical distribution of Dermacentor reticulatus in Germany and detection of Rickettsia sp. RpA4. Int J Med Microbiol. 2006, 296 (S1): 149-156. 10.1016/j.ijmm.2006.01.013.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Petney TN, Pfäffle MP, Skuballa JD: An annotated checklist of the ticks (Acari: Ixodida) of Germany. System Appl Acarol. 2012, 17: 115-170. 10.11158/saa.17.2.2.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  9. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2014, [Free and open access to biodiversity data, available athttp://www.gbif.org, accessed 30 Jul 2014],Google Scholar
  10. Obsomer V, Wirtgen M, Linden A, Claerebout E, Heyman P, Heylen D, Madder M, Maris J, Lebrun M, Tack W, Lempereur L, Hance T, Van Impe G: Spatial disaggregation of tick occurrence and ecology at a local scale as a preliminary step for spatial surveillance of tick-borne diseases: general framework and health implications in Belgium. Parasit Vectors. 2013, 6: 190-10.1186/1756-3305-6-190.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Schulz M, Mahling M, Pfister K: Abundance and seasonal activity of questing Ixodes ricinus ticks in their natural habitats in southern Germany in 2011. J Vector Ecol. 2014, 39: 56-65. 10.1111/j.1948-7134.2014.12070.x.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Edwards JL, Lane MA, Nielsen E: Interoperability of biodiversity databases: biodiversity information on every desktop. Science. 2000, 289: 2312-2314. 10.1126/science.289.5488.2312.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Hagedorn P: Untersuchung von Zecken als Marker für die Gefährdung Durch von Ihnen Übertragene Krankheiten. 2013Google Scholar
  14. Tappe J, Strube C: Anaplasma phagocytophilum and rickettsia spp. Infections in hard ticks (ixodes ricinus) in the city of Hanover (Germany): revisited. Ticks and Tick-borne Dis. 2013, 4: 432-438. 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2013.04.009.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  15. Overzier E, Pfister K, Thiel C, Herb I, Mahling M, Silaghi C: Anaplasma phagocytophilum in questing Ixodes ricinus ticks: Comparison of prevalences and partial 16S rRNA gene variants in urban, pasture, and natural habitats. Appl Environm Microbiol. 2013, 79: 1730-1734. 10.1128/AEM.03300-12.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  16. Silaghi C, Woll D, Hamel D, Pfister K, Mahling M, Pfeffer M: Babesia spp. and Anaplasma phagocy tophilum in questing ticks, ticks parasitizing rodents and the parasitized rodents - Analyzing the host-pathogen-vector interface in a metropolitan area. Parasit Vectors. 2012, 5: 191-10.1186/1756-3305-5-191.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Pfeffer M: Personal Communication on Ticks Collected in the Environs of Leipzig, Germany. 2014Google Scholar
  18. Vögerl MB: Zecken und Zecken-Übertragene Infektionskrankheiten in Niederbayern und der Oberpfalz. 2013Google Scholar
  19. Bingsohn L, Beckert A, Zehner R, Kuch U, Oehme R, Kraiczy P, Amendt J: Prevalences of tick-borne encephalitis virus and Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato in Ixodes ricinus populations of the Rhine-Main region, Germany. Ticks and Tick-borne Dis. 2013, 4: 207-213. 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2012.11.012.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  20. Schwarz A, Maier WA, Kistemann T, Kampen H: Analysis of the distribution of the tick Ixodes ricinus L. (Acari:Ixodidae) in a nature reserve of western Germany using Geographic Information Systems. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2009, 212: 87-96. 10.1016/j.ijheh.2007.12.001.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Gupta SK, Schönberg A, Hiepe T: Prevalence of ticks in relation to their role as vector of Borrelia burgdorferi under autochthone conditions. Appl Parasitol. 1995, 36: 97-106.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Bauch R: Ixodes ricinus, Haemaphysalis concinna und Dermacentor reticulatus (Ixodida, Ixodidae) im DDR-Bezirk Leipzig. Angew Parasitol. 1990, 31: 57-64.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Walter G: Untersuchungen zur Zeckenfauna der Kleinsäuger des Naturschutzgebietes Hagenburger Moor. Beitr Naturk Niedersachsen. 1980, 33: 99-103.Google Scholar
  24. Schorn S, Schöl H, Pfister K, Silaghi C: First record of Ixodes frontalis collected by flagging in Germany. Ticks and Tick-borne Dis. 2011, 2: 228-230. 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2011.07.003.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  25. Menn B: Untersuchungen zur Verbreitung und Ökologie von Dermacentor Spec. (Ixodidae, Acari) in Deutschland. 2006Google Scholar
  26. Liebisch A, Rahman MS: Zum Vorkommen und zur vektoriellen Bedeutung der Zecken Dermacentor marginatus (Sulzer, 1776) und Dermacentor reticulatus (Fabricius, 1794) in Deutschland. Tropenmed Parasitol. 1976, 27: 393-404.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Meyer-Kayser E: Dynamik des Zeckenbefalls bei Füchsen in Thüringen. 2013Google Scholar
  28. Beelitz P, Schumacher S, Marholdt F, Pfister K, Silaghi C: Studie on the prevalence of Babesia canis canis in marsh ticks (Dermacentor reticulatus) in the Saarland (in German). Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2012, 125: 168-171.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Cornely M, Schultz U: Zur Zeckenfauna Ostdeutschlands. Angew Parasitol. 1992, 33: 173-183.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Immler R, Aeschlimann A, Büttiker W, Diehl PA, Eichenberger G, Weiss N: Über das Vorkommen von Dermacentor-Zecken (Ixodoidea) in der Schweiz. Bull Soc Entomol Suisse. 1970, 43: 99-110.Google Scholar
  31. Kampen H, Poltz W, Hartelt K, Wölfel R, Faulde M: Detection of a questing Hyalomma marginatum marginatum adult female (Acari, Ixodidae) in southern Germany. Exp Appl Acarol. 2007, 43: 227-231. 10.1007/s10493-007-9113-y.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Capek M, Literak I, Kocianova E, Sychra O, Najer T, Trnka A, Kverek P: Ticks of the Hyalomma marginatum complex transported by migratory birds into Central Europe. Ticks and Tick-borne Dis. 2014, 5: 489-493. 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2014.03.002.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  33. Gothe R: Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Ixodidae): Frequency of infestation and ehrlichial infections transmitted by this tick species in dogs in Germany; an epidemiological study and consideration (in German). Wien Tierärztl Mschr. 1999, 86: 49-56.Google Scholar
  34. Gray J, Dantas-Torres F, Estrada-Peña A, Levin M: Systematics and ecology of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Ticks and Tick-borne Dis. 2013, 4: 171-180. 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2012.12.003.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  35. Kolonin GV: Fauna of Ixodid Ticks of the World (Acari, Ixodidae). 2009, [Online publication available athttp://www.kolonin.org],Google Scholar

Copyright

© Rubel et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.