|Title||Improving Widescale Monitoring of Ectoparasite Presence in Northern Canadian Wildlife with the Aid of Citizen Science|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Authors||Chenery ES, Henaff M, Magnusson K, Harms NJ, Mandrak NE, Molnar PK|
|Keywords||citizen science, Dermacentor albipictus, hunting, monitoring, parasite, Sampling, surveillance, ticks, wildlife health, Winter tick|
Sampling hides from harvested animals is commonly used for passive monitoring of ectoparasites on wildlife hosts, but often relies heavily on community engagement to obtain spatially and temporally consistent samples. Surveillance of winter ticks (Dermacentor albipictus) on moose (Alces alces) and caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) hosts in Yukon, Canada, has relied in part on voluntary submission of hides by hunters since 2011, but few samples were submitted. To enhance sampling efforts on underrepresented moose and caribou hosts, we implemented a three-year citizen science program, the Yukon Winter Tick Monitoring Project (YWTMP), to better engage with hunters in hide sample collection. A combination of in-person and social media outreach, incentivized engagement, and standardized hide sampling kits increased voluntary submissions of moose and caribou hides almost 100-fold since surveillance began. Citizen science samples expanded the northernmost geographic extent of existing sampling efforts for moose by 480 km and for caribou by 650 km to reach 67.5° N latitude. Samples also resulted in new detections of winter ticks on moose hides that are spatially separate to those submitted for other cervids in Yukon. Findings from the YWTMP have provided an essential baseline to monitor future winter tick host-parasite dynamics in the region and highlighted priority areas for ongoing tick surveillance.