In recent years an increasingattention has been directed to ticks and tick-borne pathogens and,particularly, to zoonotic agents.
Many factors have indeed led to an increasedcontact between people and these arthropods, as for example climate change(Dantas-Torres, 2015), the increase of wild animals in rural and peri-urbanareas (Torina et al., 2013) and the increased interest of people in outsideactivities (Aureli et al., 2015). The analysis reported in this studydescribes the results of 2-years survey conducted to investigate the presenceof ticks in Monte Pellegrino Natural Reserve of Palermo (Italy), an urban parkattended by citizens for sportive and recreational activities.The study provided information on tickdistribution among collection sites with different environmentalcharacteristics during the months of the years and in correlation to theenvironmental characteristics of the territory (altimetry, land cover,vegetation). A great diversity of tick specieswas found in the Natural Reserve. Data analysis showed that sites havingsimilar environmental features (1, 2, 3 and 5, 6) were characterized by similarpatterns of tick species. Sites n.
5 CatelloUtveggio and n. 6 Gorgo S.Rosaliashowed the greatest richness of tick species.The most abundant tick species were I.ventalloi (n. 1425), H.lusitanicum (n. 618), R.
sanguineus (n. 536) and R.pusillus (n. 498). All these tickspecies are well-known vectors of animal and human pathogens.Months in which the highest numbersof total ticks were collected were June 2012 (n.
323), April 2013 (n. 256) andJanuary 2013 (n. 225), while the less numbers of ticks were collected in August2012 (n. 15), February 2013 (n. 32) and May 2014 (n.
38). The presence and/orabsence of ticks during the year changed according to the life cycle of thedifferent species. The graphs joined to the monthly maps (Figures 8 A-L) showedthe monthly trend of each identified tick species in each collection site,highlighting the differences in seasonality of each species due to its ownpeculiar biological cycle.In fact, I. ventalloi was present mostly from autumn to spring, with thegreatest abundance between October and January. On the contrary, H. lusitanicum was collected mainly fromlate spring to autumn.
R. sanguineusand R. pusillus showed a similar seasonaltrend and their number was higher in spring and summer, while decreasedsignificantly to zero in winter. The few specimens of the ticks belonging tothe other identified species (Haem.
sulcata, D. marginatus and R. turanicus) didn’t allow establishingthe period of abundance/scarcity of these species. To our knowledge, the area analysedin this study was not previously subjected to epidemiological investigationconcerning ticks.
This study contributes to the understanding and mapping presenceand distribution of the ticks and can be a powerful surveillance tool. These data also allow identifyingperiods of greater abundance of ticks in the study area, thus providing indicationsfor precautions to be observed by the attenders of the area during periods withhighest abundance.Moreover, some studies in northernand central Italy (Manciniet al., 2014; Mancini et al., 2015; Aureli et al.
, 2015) analyzed the presence of pathogensin ticks collected from urban parks identifying different agents of zoonoses.These findings highlight the importance of monitoring plans in areas attendedby families withchildren and pets, walkers. The study constitutes a premise for additional researches including correlationwith pathogens in ticks and correlation with microclimate, hosts distributionanalysis.