The black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), which is the Lyme disease spirochete (Borrelia burgdorferi) vector, is prevalent in northern New York. By parasitizing small animal reservoirs, the black-legged tick infects the host species and creates the ecological cycle of the Lyme bacterium. Ixodes scapularis tick drags were performed weekly from May to July at nine different regional sites. These sites comprised 5 different microhabitats (e.g., disturbed, forest edge, forest interior, grassland, and wetland). Tick abundance was greatest in Wickham Marsh Forest Edge and the Plattsburgh disturbed area, and rare at the Residential sites. DNA extractions were performed, followed by nested PCR to detect the (Borrelia burgdorferi) Lyme spirochete bacterium. A total of (n = 126) ticks were collected at all sites, with 92% of those ticks testing positive for Lyme disease. A majority of the total ticks (n = 80) were collected during the month of June. The forest edge ticks, which were collected predominantly in Wickham Marsh, had the highest occurrence (94.5%) of Lyme disease. In contrast, the average Lyme prevalence for the other surveyed microhabitats was 83.3%. Of the microhabitats, the wetland had the lowest prevalence (0%) of Lyme disease. These differences could result from habitat suitability of important hosts (Peromyscus leucopus and Tamias striatus), which might occur in higher abundance in the Wickham Marsh region, possibly reflecting the prevalence of oak (Quercus spp.) and their acorn mast. This study has the purpose to add new insights to the study of last year in relation to different habitats and urbanized areas, assessing the prevalence of ticks and lyme that is common in the northern New York, with the occurrence of Lyme disease in black-legged ticks being the highest in those inhabiting forest edge microhabitat of the Champlain Valley during the month of June.
Student poster, Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh