CQUniversity researcher Saba Sinai discusses ticks with Glenda Henry and Colin Valler.
CQUniversity researcher Saba Sinai discusses ticks with Glenda Henry and Colin Valler.

CQ citizen science project ticks all the boxes

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?

Those are just a couple of the facts more than 50 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 joined with the Outback Exploratorium in Emerald and Dr Anita Milroy to involve Central Highlands residents in 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.”

He said despite its common name, the tick fed on more than just kangaroos and could be found on cattle, horses, dogs, goats, humans and a range of other hosts where it could 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,” he said.

“To solve these doubts, tick collections have to occur at the zones of contact between the geographical range of the subspecies; i.e. 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.”

Over the course of the project, primary school-aged participants take part in parasitology-related activities, including parasite identification, microscopy, sci-art, tick trap building, science-based games, ‘tick expeditions’, and more.

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


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