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Analysis of aggregation, a worked example: numbers of ticks on red grouse chicks

  • D. A. ELSTON (a1), R. MOSS (a2), T. BOULINIER (a3), C. ARROWSMITH (a4) (a5) and X. LAMBIN (a4)...


The statistical aggregation of parasites among hosts is often described empirically by the negative binomial (Poisson-gamma) distribution. Alternatively, the Poisson-lognormal model can be used. This has the advantage that it can be fitted as a generalized linear mixed model, thereby quantifying the sources of aggregation in terms of both fixed and random effects. We give a worked example, assigning aggregation in the distribution of sheep ticks Ixodes ricinus on red grouse Lagopus lagopus scoticus chicks to temporal (year), spatial (altitude and location), brood and individual effects. Apparent aggregation among random individuals in random broods fell 8-fold when spatial and temporal effects had been accounted for.


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Corresponding author: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Banchory, Aberdeenshire AB31 4BW, Scotland. Tel: +01330 826300. Fax: +01330 823303. E-mail:


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