The effects of forestry practice on human risk of tick-borne diseases in the Missouri Ozarks.
Allan, Brian*,1, Ostfeld, Richard2, Chase, Jonathan1, 1 Washington University, Saint Louis, MO2 Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY
ABSTRACT- Human land use can impact the abundance of arthropod vectors of infectious diseases via changes in habitat quality and/or changes in host distributions. We are examining this relationship in a large-scale experiment investigating different types of forestry practice (clear-cutting, selective-logging, and no harvest) in Ozark forests. Amblyomma americanum (the lone-star tick), an important vector of several emerging diseases, is abundant in these forests. We hypothesized that logging would increase the abundance of A. americanum by increasing the abundance of white-tailed deer, the preeminent host. We find evidence for both higher deer and tick abundance in clear-cut treatments compared to selective-logged or control treatments, but no support for a direct effect of changes in habitat quality on tick abundance. We propose additional research to 1) determine the effects of forestry practice on tick infection rates with several emerging pathogens, 2) quantify the contributions of different tick-hosts to A. americanum population abundances and pathogen infection rates using novel molecular techniques, and 3) analyze the effects of forestry and host management on tick-borne disease risk via a mathematical model. This research will contribute to our understanding of the effects of human land use on the distributions of tick-hosts and the potential impacts of these changes on human risk of vector-borne diseases.
Key words: disease ecology, forestry, pathogens
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