Lyme disease is spread by deer ticks and outbreaks of lyme disease are particularly well-suited to mapping using GIS. The distribution and abundance of Ixodes scapularis (the blacklegged tick) were studied in Wisconsin, northern Illinois, and portions of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by inspecting small mammals for ticks and by collecting questing ticks at 138 locations in state parks and natural areas.
Results showed that tick presence was positively associated with deciduous, dry to mesic forests and alfisol-type soils of sandy or loam-sand textures overlying sedimentary rock. Tick absence was associated with grasslands, conifer forests, wet to wet/mesic forests, acidic soils of low fertility and a clay soil texture, and Precambrian bedrock. Analysis also indicated that soil order and land cover were the dominant contributors to tick presence. From the information gathered, a risk map was created showing areas of high probability that the tick will become established if introduced.
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Melissa Lawrence, Rutgers Student Intern, VERTICES, LLC