a1 Department of Zoology, Oxford University, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
Despite the large number of collection rocords available, there has recently been some debate concerning how host-specific ticks are. A quantitative data set is presented for the host preferences of African ticks. The results are based on 43,615 individual collection records from published sources covering most countries in mainland Africa. Out of 223 ticks species, 112 have been collected 20 times or more; 14 of these are generalists and at least 39 are potential specialists. Further collections are needed for greater clarity in many cases. It is important that people working on problems that relate to tick-host interactions are aware of the context in which these occur, lest they make false a prior hypotheses about the importance of hosts or parasites in the system.
(Accepted April 23 1998)