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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Research Project #431333

Research Project: GPS Tracking of White-tailed Deer Movement and Tick Population Surveillance for Integrated Tick Management in the Suburban Landscape of Maryland

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32000-012-06-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2016
End Date: Jul 30, 2021

(1) Determine roles of white-tailed deer in maintaining and spreading ticks by GPS tracking of deer movements between natural areas and surrounding residential areas; (2) conduct tick population monitoring / surveys to access control efficacy of host-targeted ('4-Poster' for deer and bait box for rodents) tick control and area spray of pesticides, when used alone or in combination; and (3) determine if and how different ecological settings may affect the level of suppression of host-seeking ticks achieved through the implementation of host-targeted and non-host targeted tick control technologies.

This work will be conducted by University of Maryland with appropriate protocols and permits at field locations in Howard County. A total of 40 female white-tailed deer will be captured using drop nets and immobilized with xylazine at chosen locations. Each captured deer will be fitted with a GPS collar to allow recording of GPS coordinates every 60 min. The research teams will use the VHF monitor to locate the deer bi-weekly. Before the end of GPS units’ battery life, collars will be recovered to download GPS data and ready for the next experimental cycle. The spatial and temporal patterns of deer movement will be analyzed. GIS Tick population dynamics in study areas as well as tick population density data from those field locations and surrounding residential areas will be incorporated into GIS models to generate tick risk maps. University of Maryland’s team will provide support, mainly in personnel, to tick efficacy trials in the selected locations in Howard County that will be organized and led by the ARS Scientist, the principle investigator (PI) of the ARS Areawide Tick IPM Project. Field efficacy trials will be conducted in various locations to take into account different habitats and tick species compositions, as well as to obtain required replicates for statistical analysis. Four comparable natural areas or parks that are surrounded by residential areas, and known for presence of a large number of deer and high tick density will be identified and selected for each location. Experimental design will allow assignment of different combinations of tick control options to test areas for better understanding of the synergistic or additive effects of following tick control methods alone or in combination: (1) '4-Poster' deer feeders placed in the natural area or park, (2) Select TCS rodent bait boxes at residential homes, and (3) spray treatment at residences boarding the natural area or park with a biopesticide (Met52). A sufficient number of residential homes will be recruited / selected to serve in each residential treatment group. Tick surveys described in Objective 1will help determination of baseline tick density and changes as a result of different tick control measures. Control efficacy of individual or combination of control measures will be determined. Comparable experimental designs will also be used in Connecticut (CT) locations through a different agreement for tick survey, deer GPS tracking, and evaluation of efficacy of different tick control measures (integrated vs. singular). The two states (MD and CT) are different in geographical location, local climate, deer and tick population density, as well as overall suburban setting. Comparison of results obtained from those two states would help determine if one particular tick control measure, including intervention that integrates multiple measures, would work better in one environment than the other. Similarly, we will also be able to identify unique features of deer movement pattern / behavior, or environmental factors that may be used to help improve tick IPM design to achieve better tick control.