Native and invaded plant communities alter tick exposure risk via different mechanistic pathways
Cite this dataset
Hiatt, Drew (2022). Native and invaded plant communities alter tick exposure risk via different mechanistic pathways [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mpg4f4r2k
Plant invasions may alter vector-borne disease risk by modifying microclimates that influence vector survival, or by changing habitat conditions that determine reservoir host use. Here, we evaluated multiple mechanistic pathways by which plant invasion may alter vector-borne disease risk using the common disease vector lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) and the widespread invasive cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) in the southeastern USA. Ticks survived over 50% longer in invaded than native plant species dominated communities, likely due to lower temperature and higher humidity conditions. However, wildlife host activity was higher in native than invaded plant species dominated communities. As a result, host-seeking tick abundances were similar between invaded and native areas, albeit through different mechanisms: longer survival maintained tick abundances in invaded areas while greater host use maintained tick abundance in native areas. Multiple, potentially off-setting mechanistic pathways should be considered when evaluating possible effects of invasive plants on vector-borne disease risk.
Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, Award: RC-2636