Investigating the Potential Presence of Niche Partitioning in Various Tick Species Found in Missouri

Principal Investigators: Mr. Evan Aljundi, Dr. Saminqueka Halsey

Institution and/or Affiliation: University of Missouri

 

Project Description This project proposes to collect field data from PFCA and aims to comprehend where various tick species and their potential hosts occur to gather a stronger understanding of the distribution of pathogens of human health concern in Missouri.

Our mission is to understand the occurrence and habitat selection of white-tailed deer, opossums, and various rodents to discover whether different tick species found in the same habitats (prairie, woodland) prefer a specific host to collect blood meals. We also seek to discover if ticks prefer certain vegetative groups (grasses, forbs) to quest upon as we wish to understand if ticks can be more easily managed. We aim to discover more efficient methods at reducing tick-borne diseases by comparing data collected on vertebrates and invertebrates from PFCA and other potential counties across Missouri. I plan to incorporate woodland habitats into my research to understand how mammal and tick abundance differ as compared to prairies.