Emerald residents give CQUni-led parasite workshop a big 'tick' for being informative

17 February 2021

Did you know female ticks can lay up to 20 000 eggs in a single batch and there are more than 800 species of ticks in the world? These a just a couple of the facts that participants learned at a Tick Information Workshop at CQUniversity's Emerald Campus recently.

The workshop was part of Parasites in the Wild' a citizen science project tailor-made to the Central Highlands.

In Parasites in the Wild' CQUniversity researchers Saba Sinai and Dr Amy Cosby have joined with the Outback Exploratorium' in Emerald' and sci-artist Dr Anita Milroy to engage members of the Central Highlands community in making important scientific discoveries.

'Citizen science is an approach that seeks to involve the community in scientific research' usually by using a 'crowd sourcing' model to collect data or samples'' Mr Sinai said.

'The Parasites in the Wild team hope to resolve a long-held doubt about the subspecies of the ornate kangaroo tick (Amblyomma triguttatum).'

He said despite its common name' this tick feeds on more than just kangaroos and could be found on cattle' horses' dogs' goats' humans and a range of other hosts where it can cause health and primary production concerns.

'The ornate kangaroo tick has four subspecies' but there is some doubt as to how 'genuine' their current scientific classification is.

'To solve these doubts' tick collections have to occur at the zones of contact between the geographical range of the subspecies' ie where they meet.

'The Central Highlands is one of only three such zones of contact in Australia' so the region is perfectly positioned to help resolve this doubt.

'To help us do this' Parasites in the Wild' supported through a generous grant from the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist' engages members of the community to assist with project design and tick collection. This includes livestock producers' kangaroo harvesters' government employees and members of the Outback Exploratorium's Science Squad program.

'A major component of the Parasites in the Wild project is the involvement of the Outback Exploratorium. Over the course of the project' the primary school-aged members of the science Squad program are introduced to a range of STEAM (Science' Technology' Engineering' Arts and Maths) principles and approaches through parasitology-related activities' including parasite identification' microscopy' sci-art' tick trap building' science-based games' 'tick expeditions' and more.

'So far more than 50 members of the Central Highlands community have been involved in Parasites in the Wild and the project has garnered far more interest than we had initially anticipated.'

Anyone interested in becoming involved with the project can contact Saba Sinai at s.sinai-mameghany@cqu.edu.au or on 4980 4139.

Did you know?

  • Some ticks have iridescent patches of colouring on their dorsal surface (back)
  • Some ticks secrete a cement-like substance to help them adhere to the skin of their host
  • Ticks can transmit a range of diseases to humans and animals including Lyme disease' Crimean–Congo haemorrhagic fever' tick fever' African swine fever and Tick-borne relapsing fever.