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.

Related Articles


"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 November 23, 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 November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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