Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Forest Fragmentation May Increase Lyme Disease Risk

28.03.2003

Patchy woods-common in cities and suburbia, and even in rural areas-may have more Lyme disease-carrying ticks, which could increase risk of the disease in these forest remnants, scientists have found. While forest fragments generally have fewer species than continuous habitat does, some species actually fare better in small patches, according to biologist Felicia Keesing of Bard College in Annandale, NY, and her colleagues. Lyme disease incidence is rising in the United States, and is in fact far more common than West Nile fever and other insect-borne diseases. Forest fragmentation could explain the increase.

"This research is important because it gives us a new way of looking at the transmission of diseases, and shows us that human health is affected by the local ecology, and by landuse practices," said Michael Bowers, program director in the National Science Foundation (NSF)’s division of environmental biology, which funded the research.

White-footed mice, for example, are more abundant in forest fragments in some parts of the country, likely because fewer predators and competitors remain there. These mice are particularly abundant in patches smaller than about five acres, which could spell trouble for people living nearby: the mice are the main carriers of Lyme disease-causing bacteria. In eastern and central United States, Lyme disease is contracted via blacklegged ticks that feed on infected mice, and then transmit the bacteria when the ticks bite people. As a result, said Keesing, Lyme disease is concentrated in areas where people live near forests with blacklegged ticks.

To find out whether forest patchiness could increase the risk of Lyme disease, Keesing and colleagues Brian Allan of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ, and Richard Ostfeld of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, studied blacklegged ticks in 14 forest patches made up mostly of maple trees, and ranging from 1.7 to about 18 acres, in Dutchess County. Dutchess County, located in southeastern New York, is now the location with the highest number of people infected with Lyme disease in the United States.

The researchers found that smaller forest fragments had more infected ticks, which could translate to more Lyme disease. Forest patches that were smaller than three acres had an average of three times as many ticks than did larger fragments and seven times more infected ticks. As many as 80 percent of the ticks in the smallest patches were infected, the highest rate the scientists have seen. Although larval ticks hatch in an uninfected condition, they promptly seek a blood meal. In small forest patches, that meal will likely come from white-footed mice, said Keesing.

"Our results suggest that efforts to reduce the risk of Lyme disease should be directed toward decreasing fragmentation of deciduous forests of the northeastern United States into small patches, particularly in areas with a high incidence of Lyme disease," said Keesing. "The creation of forest fragments smaller than five acres should especially be avoided."

The scientists’ results were published in the February 2003 issue of the journal Conservation Biology.

NSF Program Officer: Michael Bowers, (703) 292-8481, mbowers@nsf.gov

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Cheryl Dybas | NSF
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov
http://www.nsf.gov/home/news.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Why might reading make myopic?
18.07.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

nachricht Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

New creepy, crawly search and rescue robot developed at Ben-Gurion U

19.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>