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Shelterbelts in the agricultural landscape provide valuable habitat to a variety of animals that in turn may be hosts to ixodid ticks. The purpose of this study is to determine if shelterbelt associated factors influence tick ecology. In 2010 and 2011, ticks were collected from several shelterbelts in southeast Nebraska in Lancaster and Saunders counties. Four tick species were identified.
Adjacent land use, shelterbelt composition, and time of day were all factors which did not influence the number of questing ticks collected. Differences in relation to aspect and distance from the shelterbelt were significant. The east side had continually higher numbers of questing ticks than the north, south and west. The duration of tick activity was reduced on the north side. Solar radiation, soil moisture and soil temperature could influence tick emergence from diapause resulting in the first cohort of the year.
Based on my findings, the entomological risk for land management can be augmented, tick control strategies can become more effective and less wasteful, and knowledge of the presence of the various species of ticks can impact policies on public health and education.
Advisor: Manuel Roberto Cortinas