S&AA-ixodide - Systematic & Applied Acarology...

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Systematic & Applied Acarology (2010) 15, 163–183. 163 © 2010 Systematic & Applied Acarology Society ISSN 1362-1971 Electronic polytomous and dichotomous keys to the genera and species of hard ticks (Acari: Ixodidae) present in New Zealand SCOTT HARDWICK AgResearch, Lincoln Research Centre, Private Bag 4749, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand Email: scott.hardwick@agresearch.co.nz Abstract New Zealand has a relatively small tick fauna, with nine described and one undescribed species belonging to the genera Ornithodoros , Amblyomma , Haemaphysalis and Ixodes. Although exotic hard ticks (Ixodidae) are intercepted in New Zealand on a regular basis, the country has largely remained free of these organisms and the significant diseases that they can vector. However, professionals in the biosecurity, health and agricultural industries in New Zealand have little access to user-friendly identification tools that would enable them to accurately identify the ticks that are already established in the country or to allow recognition of newly arrived exotics. The lack of access to these materials has the potential to lead to delays in the identification of exotic tick species. This is of concern as 40-60% of exotic ticks submitted for identification by biosecurity staff in New Zealand are intercepted post border. This article presents dichotomous and polytomous keys to the eight species of hard tick that occur in New Zealand. These keys have been digitised using Lucid ® and Phoenix ® software and are deployed at http://keys.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/hard_ticks/Ixodidae genera.html in a form that allows use by non-experts. By enabling non-experts to carry out basic identifications, it is hoped that professionals in the health and agricultural industries in New Zealand can play a greater role in surveillance for exotic ticks. Key words: Ixodidae, dichotomous, polytomous, Lucid ® , Phoenix ® , biosecurity, New Zealand Introduction The worldwide decline in taxonomic expertise (Godfray 2002, Walter & Winterton 2007, Wheeler 2004) is inhibiting prevention and management of biological invasions (Lodge et al. 2006). Protocols for diagnosing pests and diseases underpin essentially all quarantine activities, and low- quality, inaccessible or absent taxonomic keys are major impediments to effective border biosecurity and pest management (IPPC 2006, Lodge et al. 2006). For a taxonomic specialist, identifying a specimen may only require a brief check of critical characters (Walter & Winterton 2007). However, less specialised diagnosticians dealing with unfamiliar species in quarantine situations require extremely well-designed taxonomic tools to obtain correct identifications. Therein lies the problem, as traditional dichotomous keys are “compiled by those who do not need them for those who cannot use them” (Lobanov 2003), resulting in tools that can be inadequate for quarantine requirements (Lodge et al. 2006, Walter & Winterton 2007).
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S&AA-ixodide - Systematic & Applied Acarology...

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