Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Forest Fragmentation May Increase Lyme Disease Risk

Date:
January 30, 2003
Source:
Society For Conservation Biology
Summary:
Having a patch of woods in your backyard may boost your spirits but could threaten your health. New research shows that small forest fragments in New York have more Lyme disease-carrying ticks, which could increase peoples' risk of the disease.

Having a patch of woods in your backyard may boost your spirits but could threaten your health. New research shows that small forest fragments in New York have more Lyme disease-carrying ticks, which could increase peoples' risk of the disease.

"These results suggest that...habitat fragmentation can influence human health," say Felicia Keesing of Bard College in Annandale, New York; Brian Allan of Rutgers University in New Jersey; and Richard Ostfeld of the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York, in the February issue of Conservation Biology.

While fragments generally have fewer species than continuous habitat, some species actually do better in small patches. Notably, white-foot mice are more abundant in forest fragments in parts of the U.S., presumably because there are fewer predators and competitors left. White-footed mice are particularly abundant in fragments smaller than about five acres, and this could mean trouble for people living nearby because the mice are the main carriers of Lyme bacteria. In eastern and central North America, people catch Lyme disease via blacklegged ticks: first, larval ticks feed on infected mice, and then the infected larvae molt into nymphs that bite people.

Lyme disease is concentrated in areas where lots of people live near forest with blacklegged ticks and their hosts. Lyme disease is rising in the U.S. and is far more common than West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.

To see if forest fragmentation could increase the risk of Lyme disease, Keesing and her colleagues studied blacklegged tick nymphs in 14 forest patches ranging from 1.7 to about 18 acres in Dutchess County, New York, which recently has had the most people with Lyme disease in the U.S. The researchers determined the densities of both tick nymphs and infected tick nymphs.

The researchers found that smaller forest fragments had both more tick nymphs and more infected tick nymphs, which could mean more Lyme disease. Fragments that were smaller than three acres had an average of three times as many total nymphs than the larger fragments did (0.1 vs. 0.03 nymphs per study plot) and seven times more infected nymphs (0.07 vs. 0.01 infected nymphs per study plot). As many as 80% of the nymphs were infected in the smallest patches, the highest rate the researchers have seen.

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Conservation Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Conservation Biology. "Forest Fragmentation May Increase Lyme Disease Risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030130081414.htm>.
Society For Conservation Biology. (2003, January 30). Forest Fragmentation May Increase Lyme Disease Risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030130081414.htm
Society For Conservation Biology. "Forest Fragmentation May Increase Lyme Disease Risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/01/030130081414.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins