Ecology of Disease Vectors in the Northeastern USA

EPA Grant Number: X832719
Title: Ecology of Disease Vectors in the Northeastern USA
Investigators: Daniels, Thomas J , Falco, Richard C
Institution: Fordham University
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2005 through September 30, 2006
Project Amount: $193,500
RFA: Targeted Research Grant (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Targeted Research


Vector-borne diseases are among the most important public health threats presently facing the United States. In 2004 alone, more than 20,000 cases of Lyme disease and nearly 2,500 cases of West Nile fever were reported in the US. Vector-borne disease incidence is intimately associated with regional landscape patterns and local ecology. For this reason, it is imperative that research efforts maintain an ecological focus to understand the nature of exposure to vectorborne disease agents, and ultimately develop environmentally sensitive control measures aimed at reducing risk.


This appropriation will be used to continue two ongoing studies: 1) A population ecology study of blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis) to determine factors that impact tick mortality and Lyme disease risk, and 2) A study of the species composition and larval habitats of mosquitoes in a West Nile virus-endemic area. Both studies are long-term ecological investigations of disease vectors that significantly impact public health in the lower Hudson Valley and other areas of the northeastern and Midwestern US. Our long-term goal is to build on the work being funded this year and incrementally add to the services that can be offered to public health officials and students.


The proposed work involves both field and laboratory studies of tick populations and mosquito community structure. With respect to ticks, population studies of I. scapularis will be conducted at two wooded sites located in central Westchester County, N.Y. Larval, nymphal, and adult ticks will be sampled using the "drag sampling" method. Fluorescent paint will be used to mark ticks as part of a long-term mark-release-recapture study. Population estimates will be compared to previous estimates calculated annually since 1985 and analyzed with respect to biotic and abiotic factors affecting tick mortality. Regarding mosquitoes, sampling will be conducted at ten sites in central Westchester County, N.Y., using C02-baited CDC light traps and standard gravid traps. Larval mosquito habitat will be identified by aerial surveys and ground searches, and sampled using standard techniques. Field data will be used subsequently to enhance efforts for educating the next generation of vector ecologists. A plan will be developed, including coursework and field studies, to establish a training center for graduate students and health professionals on the ecology and control of vector-borne diseases.

Expected Results:

  1. Knowledge of the factors that influence deer tick mortality will enable us to more accurately predict spatial and seasonal changes in Lyme disease risk and will allow for the development of more effective tick control measures.
  2. Data on local mosquito ecology will allow us to more effectively predict population trends of vector mosquito species in the New York area.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Risk assessment, human health, life history, entomology, vector-borne disease, tick, mosquito, Northeast,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report