WABI interviews Gardner about blacklegged tick research

WABI (Channel 5) reported on Allison Gardner’s research into ecosystem factors, such as temperature and snowpack, that inhibit the spread of blacklegged ticks. The National Science Foundation awarded the assistant professor in the School of Biology and Ecology $200,000 for a three-year project that begins Sept. 1. Blacklegged ticks’ current distribution appears to be mostly limited by abiotic ecosystem factors such as temperature and humidity during the 95% of their two-year life cycle that they’re not attached to a host. Gardner will examine to what extent winter conditions of temperature and snowfall constrain the geographic distribution of the blacklegged tick at five field sites spanning statewide latitudinal and coastal-inland gradients. “Ultimately the goal of the research is to be able to inform modeling efforts, to try to predict where the tick is going to spread and on what time scale. Perhaps even to what extent it’s going to be ‘a good year’ or ‘a bad year’ for ticks,” she said.