FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington is presenting a talk on the Maine Forest Tick Survey by guest lecturer Dr. Allison Gardner on Monday, March 27, at 11:45 a.m., in Thomas Auditorium in UMF Preble Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
The Maine Forest Tick Survey is a cross-disciplinary research project with the long-term goal of identifying forest management practices that inhibit tick-borne disease transmission, are compatible with landowners’ economic interests while conserving biodiversity and enhancing other ecosystem services provided by healthy forests.
Due to a combination of climate change and an expanding human-wildlife interface accompanying land development, Maine has seen a five-fold increase in Lyme disease incidence over the past decade. Active forest management may alter individual risk of exposure to tick-borne disease and the spread and persistence of tick-borne disease in the forest landscape via diverse mechanistic pathways.
In southern Maine, over 80 percent of forested land is managed and used for hunting, timber extraction, and outdoor recreation by non-industrial family forest landowners, creating both an urgent public health need and a unique socio-ecological context in which to investigate the effects of forest management on disease transmission.
This event is sponsored by the UMF Division of Natural Sciences.
The natural science component of this project investigates the cascading impacts of silviculture treatments on wildlife communities, small mammal behavior and tick encounter frequencies, off-host tick survival, and entomological risk of exposure to tick-borne pathogens.
A parallel social science theme of the project investigates factors that determine management decisions by landowners, and whether increased knowledge of the environmental context of Lyme disease transmission (via outreach efforts and participation in a community science program) may motivate private landowners to engage in practices that benefit the health and sustainability of the entire forest ecosystem.
The results of this social-ecological research coupled with stakeholder engagement are anticipated to inform practical recommendations to protect community health while sustaining a robust forest product supply chain.
Dr. Gardner is an associate professor of medical entomology in the School of Biology and Ecology at the University of Maine. Her scientific research seeks to investigate the basic biology of arthropod disease vectors, analyze the interacting social and ecological conditions that enhance vector-borne disease transmission, and explain and predict the spread of emerging tick-borne and mosquito-borne diseases. She received a B.A. from Williams College and M.S. degrees in veterinary pathobiology and statistics and a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
For more information, contact Donelle Schwalm, UMF assistant professor of environmental biology at email@example.com.