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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Get ready for a surge in Lymes Disease this Spring and Summer as last years sparse acorn crop in the Eastern woodlands preceeded by 2009's bumper crop of "corns" has set the stage for a crash in the white footed mouse population.............Lack of mice in the woods and fields makes it critical that lymes carrying ticks find an alternative host that will proivde them with a life carrying bloodmeal...........That alternative host is often us humans............infected more often than not by the bite of the tick transmitting the dreaded infection into our bloodstream.........Note that .intact forest habitat and animal diversity help in buffering Lyme disease risks.....Note the sources at the end of this article for more information on this disease which is spreading quickly across the USA from East Coast to West Coast

Lyme Disease Surge Predicted for the Northeaste​rn U.S.

Boom-and-bust acorn crops and a decline in mice leave humans vulnerable to infected ticks


The northeastern U.S. should prepare for a surge in Lyme disease this spring. And we can blame fluctuations in acorns and mouse populations, not the mild winter. So reports Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY.

What do acorns have to do with illness? Acorn crops vary from year-to-year, with boom-and-bust cycles influencing the winter survival and breeding success of white-footed mice. These small
mammals pack a one-two punch: they are preferred hosts for black-legged ticks and they are very effective at transmitting Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

“We had a boom in acorns, followed by a boom in mice. And now, on the heels of one of the smallest acorn crops we’ve ever seen, themouse population is crashing,” Ostfeld explains. Adding, “This
spring, there will be a lot of Borrelia burgdorferi-infected black-legged ticks in our forests looking for a blood meal. And instead of finding a white-footed mouse, they are going to find other mammals—like us.”

For more than two decades, Ostfeld, Cary Institute forest ecologis Dr. Charles D. Canham, and their research team have been investigatin connections among acorn abundance, white-footed mice, black-legged, ticks, and Lyme disease. In 2010, acorn crops were the heaviest recorded at their Millbrook-based research site. And in 2011, mouse populations followed suit, peaking in the summer months. The scarcityof acorns in the fall of 2011 set up a perfect storm for human Lyme disease risk.

Black-legged ticks take three bloodmeals—as larvae, as nymphs, and as adults. Larval ticks that fed on 2011’s booming mouse population will soon be in need of a nymphal meal. These tiny ticks—as small a poppy seeds—are very effective at transmitting Lyme to people. The ast time Ostfeld’s research site experienced a heavy acorn crop (2006) followed by a sparse acorn crop (2007), nymphal black-legged ticks reached a 20-year high.

The May-July nymph season will be dangerous, and Ostfeld urges people o be aware when outdoors. Unlike white-footed mice, who can  nfected with Lyme with minimal cost, the disease is debilitating to humans. Left undiagnosed, it can cause chronic fatigue, joint pain, and neurological problems. It is the most prevalent vector-borne illness in the U.S., with the majority of cases occurring in the Northeast.

Ostfeld says that mild winter weather does not cause a rise in tick populations, although it can change tick behavior. Adult ticks, which are slightly larger than a sesame seed, are normally dormant in winter but can seek a host whenever temperatures rise several degrees above reezing. The warm winter of 2011-2012 induced earlier than normal ctivity. While adult ticks can transmit Lyme, they are responsible for a small fraction of tick-borne disease, with spring-summer nymphs posing more of a human health threat.

Past research by Ostfeld and colleagues has highlighted the role that intact forest habitat and animal diversity play in buffering Lyme disease risks. He is currently working with health departments inimpacted areas to educate citizens and physicians about the impending surge in Lyme disease.

For more information and how environmental conditions set the stage for disease risk:

Ostfeld, R. S. 2011. Lyme disease: The ecology of a complex system.Oxford University Press
Keesing, F., J. Brunner, S. Duerr, M. Killilea, K. LoGiudice, K. Schmidt, H. Vuong and R. S. Ostfeld. 2009. Hosts as ecological traps for the vector of Lyme disease. Proceedings of the Royal Society B,
Biological Sciences 276:3911-3916. Ostfeld, R. S., C. D. Canham, K. Oggenfuss, R. J. Winchcombe, and F.Keesing. 2006. Climate, deer, rodents, and acorns as determinants of variation in Lyme-disease risk. PLoS Biology 4(6):e145. Schauber, E. M., R. S. Ostfeld, and A. S. Evans, Jr. 2005. What is
the best predictor of annual Lyme disease incidence: Weather, mice, or acorns? Ecol. Appl. 15:575-586

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is a private, not-for-profit
environmental research and education organization in Millbrook, N.Y.
For more than twenty-five years, Cary Institute scientists have been
investigating the complex interactions that govern the natural world.
Their objective findings lead to more effective policy decisions and
ncreased environmental literacy. Focal areas include air and water
pollution, climate change, invasive species, and the ecological
dimensions of infectious disease.

Learn more at

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