Thomas VanHorn, former Tyson high school TERFer and WashU undergraduate fellow research in our lab, will have his independent research project published* in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Medical Entomology. Thomas's work, mentored by Tyson staff scientist Solny Adalsteinsson, led our team into the ForestGEO plot at Tyson to collect roughly 3,000 ticks during summer 2015. The results showed that high tick abundances were found in valleys and and on north or northwest facing slopes. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, nymphal (immature) ticks were less abundant where temperature variance was high.
Why is this important? Because the Lone Star tick is a vector for several important pathogens that cause human and wildlife disease, and being able to predict where abundance is highest without having to collect complex ecological data could be very useful for land managers who want to reduce the risk of tick encounters by humans and wildlife.
Thomas is currently a senior at WashU, and will head off to medical school next fall. What a great way to wrap up his undergraduate career and many summers at Tyson! Congrats Thomas!
*co-authors include: Thomas VanHorn, Solny Adalsteinsson, Katie Westby, Marko Spasojevic, Maranda Walton, Beth Biro, Jonathan Myers, and Kim Medley