Tick-Talk Monitoring Website is Live!
Ticks play an important role in the emergence of zoonotic diseases in climate-sensitive systems like Michigan's Upper Peninsula. As the region experiences shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns due to climate change, it creates favorable conditions for the expansion of tick populations and the species of wildlife that support them. One such example is the proliferation of white-footed mice in the area. These mice, which are competent reservoirs for Lyme disease, thrive in the changing landscape. As the white-footed mouse population increases, so does the abundance of their primary vector, the black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Consequently, this leads to an increased risk of Lyme disease transmission to humans, where the number of cases in the Upper Peninsula increased five-fold between 2000 and 2014, signaling a growing threat of tick-borne diseases in the region. As such, with support from the MI-SAPPHIRE grant, our collaborative team of scientists created a citizen science tick monitoring program, in association with the systematic collection of ticks from captured birds and mammals. These ticks are being genetically assayed for numerous diseases, including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesia, Rickettsia, Ehrlichia, and Tularemia. As results role in, we are making them publicly available through our Tick-Talk Monitoring website and interactive dashboard, check it out below. . We hope to use these data to better understand drivers of tick-borne disease in our region and beyond.