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Fighting Tick-Borne Disease With Computer Science

The Lone Star tick.

Researchers are using a five-year, $2.45 million grant from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to learn more about how southeastern pine forestsand the ticks that live in themare changing.

Credit: Joesboy/iStock

Researchers at Boston University are using new data on the location and number of ticks in the southeastern U.S. to build mathematical models of how the grasses, wildlife, and ticks respond to different conditions.

The researchers are building on an existing model that already predicts changes in a given landscape based on temperature and rainfall trends caused by climate change. The researchers plan to put representations of the grasses, deer, and ticks into a single system that will project how their populations will change under different climate scenarios.

The researchers initially will predict habitat changes in response to varying climate conditions, and then, using those results, they will forecast tick populations and tick-borne disease risks.

Finally, the team will develop a useful tool that land managers can use to test different land management strategies, such as schedules of controlled fires, under current and changing climate and habitat conditions.

From BU Today
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