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  1. Abstract Background The incidence of tick-borne disease has increased dramatically in recent decades, with urban areas increasingly recognized as high-risk environments for exposure to infected ticks. Green spaces may play a key role in facilitating the invasion of ticks, hosts and pathogens into residential areas, particularly where they connect residential yards with larger natural areas (e.g. parks). However, the factors mediating tick distribution across heterogeneous urban landscapes remain poorly characterized. Methods Using generalized linear models in a multimodel inference framework, we determined the residential yard- and local landscape-level features associated with the presence of three tick species of current and growing public health importance in residential yards across Staten Island, a borough of New York City, in the state of New York, USA. Results The amount and configuration of canopy cover immediately surrounding residential yards was found to strongly predict the presence of Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum , but not that of Haemaphysalis longicornis . Within yards, we found a protective effect of fencing against I. scapularis and A. americanum, but not against H. longicornis . For all species, the presence of log and brush piles strongly increased the odds of finding ticks in yards. Conclusions The results highlightmore »a considerable risk of tick exposure in residential yards in Staten Island and identify both yard- and landscape-level features associated with their distribution. In particular, the significance of log and brush piles for all three species supports recommendations for yard management as a means of reducing contact with ticks. Graphical Abstract« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Reisen, William (Ed.)
    Abstract The incidence of tick-borne diseases has increased in recent decades and accounts for the majority of vector-borne disease cases in temperate areas of Europe, North America, and Asia. This emergence has been attributed to multiple and interactive drivers including changes in climate, land use, abundance of key hosts, and people’s behaviors affecting the probability of human exposure to infected ticks. In this forum paper, we focus on how land use changes have shaped the eco-epidemiology of Ixodes scapularis-borne pathogens, in particular the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto in the eastern United States. We use this as a model system, addressing other tick-borne disease systems as needed to illustrate patterns or processes. We first examine how land use interacts with abiotic conditions (microclimate) and biotic factors (e.g., host community composition) to influence the enzootic hazard, measured as the density of host-seeking I. scapularis nymphs infected with B. burgdorferi s.s. We then review the evidence of how specific landscape configuration, in particular forest fragmentation, influences the enzootic hazard and disease risk across spatial scales and urbanization levels. We emphasize the need for a dynamic understanding of landscapes based on tick and pathogen host movement and habitat use in relationmore »to human resource provisioning. We propose a coupled natural-human systems framework for tick-borne diseases that accounts for the multiple interactions, nonlinearities and feedbacks in the system and conclude with a call for standardization of methodology and terminology to help integrate studies conducted at multiple scales.« less
  3. The problem of entrainment is central to circadian biology. In this regard, Drosophila has been an important model system. Owing to the simplicity of its nervous system and the availability of powerful genetic tools, the system has shed significant light on the molecular and neural underpinnings of entrainment. However, much remains to be learned regarding the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying this important phenomenon. Under cyclic light/dark conditions, Drosophila melanogaster displays crepuscular patterns of locomotor activity with one peak anticipating dawn and the other anticipating dusk. These peaks are characterized through an estimation of their phase relative to the environmental light cycle and the extent of their anticipation of light transitions. In Drosophila chronobiology, estimations of phases are often subjective, and anticipation indices vary significantly between studies. Though there is increasing interest in building flexible analysis tools in the field, none incorporates objective measures of Drosophila activity peaks in combination with the analysis of fly activity/sleep in the same program. To this end, we have developed PHASE, a MATLAB-based program that is simple and easy to use and (i) supports the visualization and analysis of activity and sleep under entrainment, (ii) allows analysis of both activity and sleep parameters withinmore »user-defined windows within a diurnal cycle, (iii) uses a smoothing filter for the objective identification of peaks of activity (and therefore can be used to quantitatively characterize them), and (iv) offers a series of analyses for the assessment of behavioral anticipation of environmental transitions.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 21, 2023