The role of host migration patterns in the range expansion of black-legged ticks in eastern Ontario, Canada

Authors: Katherine Woodstock*, Queen's University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Medical Geography, Lyme disease, Geographic Information Systems, Spatial modelling
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 5:20 PM / 7:00 PM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the past decade, Lyme disease risk has continued to increase rapidly throughout Ontario, Canada. This is largely due to the expanded habitat range of the black-legged tick, the sole carrier of Lyme disease in Ontario. Given the limited spatial range of ticks themselves, they are typically introduced to new regions by their migratory host species, including white-tailed deer and migratory songbirds. In order to evaluate these species’ roles in the establishment of new tick populations, an agent-based simulation model was created using Agent Analyst, an ArcGIS extension. Agent-based modelling is a method in which the movement of individual agents is simulated probabilistically based on initial behavior rules and their subsequent interactions with other agents. Spatial-temporal data on the migratory patterns of white-tailed deer and migratory songbirds were obtained from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Canadian Migratory Monitoring Network, respectively. Additionally, black-legged tick habitat information was derived from Public Health Ontario passive surveillance data based on ticks submitted between 2009 and 2016. Based upon the spatial modelling results, the extent to which host migratory behavior accounts for the spatial-temporal patterns seen in these tick submissions was assessed. This has implications for public health resource allocation, and contributes to an increased understanding of the relative importance of several species on vector-borne disease transmission.

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