Title: Host functional connectivity and the spread potential of Lyme disease
Citation: LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY vol. 33 no. 11 p. 1925-1938
Publisher: SPRINGER
Publication Year: 2018
JRC N°: JRC110813
ISSN: 0921-2973 (online)
URI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-018-0715-z
DOI: 10.1007/s10980-018-0715-z
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Context: In the ecology of Lyme disease emergence, it remains unclear to what extent spread of the tick vector (Ixodes scapularis) and the pathogen (Borrelia burgdorferi) are dependent upon the dispersal of vertebrate hosts in spatially heterogeneous landscapes. Yet, empirical measure of these complex ecologically driven spread processes present conceptual and methodological challenges despite important public health implications. Objectives: To examine the relationship between landscape characteristics and tick-borne disease spread, we modeled the influence of landscape connectivity for a simplified vertebrate host community (white-footed mouse—Peromyscus leucopus, American robin—Turdus migratorius, white-tailed deer— Odocoileus virginianus) on the potential spread of the tick population compared to the pathogen in a spatially-structured landscape. Methods: We parameterized a hybrid demographic dispersal connectivity model by combining a series of reported host dispersal and tick burden estimates with empirically-measured tick abundance and pathogen prevalence sampled from a Lyme-endemic island landscape in Thousand Islands National Park (Ontario, Canada) and simulated several tick- and pathogen spread scenarios. Results: The extent of tick spread by mice [amount of reachable habitat (ARH) = 18.0%] is considerably similar to that of robins (ARH = 18.7%), while deer support the greatest tick spread extent (ARH = 82.0%). Infected mice carrying ticks support the highest pathogen spread (ARH = 19.8%). Short-distance pathogen spread and long-distance tick spread were facilitated by intermediate stepping stone habitat fragments. Conclusions: We provide evidence that host functional connectivity mediates tick spread differently than pathogen spread, and depends strongly on landscape configuration. Our study therefore emphasizes the importance of landscape spatial heterogeneity on the ecological processes that influence regional tick-borne disease spread.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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