Tick Research Update 3

My abstract gave a very limited view into my research, so I will quickly rehash what I was attempting to discover as well as what I had inferred from data I already had access to. I investigated the effect of climate variability on adults and nymph abundance as moisture availability (a key factor determining tick survival) on the distribution of lone star ticks. I predicted that there would be an overall increase in the prevalence of ticks and a higher density of adult lone star ticks in areas with higher moisture levels. This was because I believed that adult ticks are hardier than nymphs.

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Tick Research Update 2

With tick research and increasing prevalence becoming a media (especially NPR) topic, I decided to come up with a short list of Q&A. Here are some common questions I have received after beginning my research from some of my friends!

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Tick Research Update 1

At 6:30 A.M., I roll out of bed, don on research gear, grab a Clif Bar, and make the short walk to the Integrated Science Center. Tucked away on the third floor of the ISC is the Applied Conservation and Ecological Research Lab (lovingly dubbed ACER). Our laboratory easily accommodates 18 undergraduate students during the school year and 9 field colleagues during the summer. Although William and Mary is typically more tranquil during the summer sessions, ACER continues to be a hub of activity. A fellow Monroe, Courtney leads an investigative group that follows frog migration. Two graduate students pursue natural shoreline research. And I have joined up with two fellow lab member to form the William and Mary ACER Tick Team to investigate the prevalence of Ehrlichia chaffeensis. 

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Abstract: Investigating the Relationship between Amblyomma americanum Abundance, Temperature, and Moisture in the Virginia Peninsula

As tick-borne diseases are on the rise across the United States it becomes more important to understand and predict their distribution. There is a lot of talk, but little empirical evidence, regarding the effect of human land use on the distribution of ticks and tick-borne diseases, especially outside of the Lyme-disease system. Here in Virginia, there is growing concern about Ehrlichia chaffeensis, a pathogenic bacterium transmitted by the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) and carried by the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Over the course of my 10 week Freshman Monroe Project, I will investigate how the interaction of human land use, white-tailed deer habitat use, and moisture availability (a key factor determining tick survival) influences the distribution of adult lone star ticks and E. chaffeensis. My Monroe research is a collaboration with Dr. Matthias Leu and graduate student Dylan Simpson (both landscape ecologists/conservation biologists), and Dr. Kerscher (molecular biologist).

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