Urcuqui-Bustamante strives to reduce tick-borne diseases through landscape management

Andrés Urcuqui-Bustamante, postdoctoral fellow in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, is working to address one of the greatest challenges that our state faces: ticks and tick-borne diseases. 

His work integrates data from forest ecology, social science and medical entomology to identify landscape management solutions that could reduce tick-borne diseases like Lyme. 

Urcuqui-Bustamante recently had the opportunity to present his research “Reducing Vector-borne Diseases Through Landscape Management” during an event that celebrated National Postdoc Appreciation Week. He discussed the complexity of the human-tick system, socioecological systems modeling and collaborative modeling during his presentation. 

“Humans are part of this complex ecosystem through how we modify our environment. We modify our forests through forest management practices. We actually alter habitat structure and composition,” says Urcuqui-Bustamante. “We are part of this ecosystem. Any decision that we make impacts the forest and tick density, but also wildlife.” 

Urcuqui-Bustamante works with his advisor, Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Jessica Leahy on his research at UMaine. He obtained his doctorate degree in environmental science from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at the State University of New York (SUNY). He also holds two master’s degrees, one in management and conservation of biodiversity in the tropics from Universidad CEU San Pablo, and the other in rural development from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. 

What is novel or notable about your research?

We are proposing a novel framework to study the impacts of forest management on tick density and tick-borne disease prevalence. The use of social-ecological systems modeling with participation from stakeholders is particularly novel in tick ecology research.

Elaborate on the interdisciplinary nature of your research and collaborations.

My research builds at the intersection of human systems and natural science, so we build on previous research in tick ecology, disease ecology, forest management, human perceptions, and decision-making. We integrate knowledge and data from biophysical studies and social science research.

Recently, Urcuqui-Bustamante presented at the inaugural Research Talks event, featuring short presentations by five postdoctoral scholars. The event was sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate School. To listen to the presentations, please visit the Postdoctoral Research at UMaine webpage

For more information about research and scholarly activities at UMaine, visit UMaine Research.

Contact: research@maine.edu