Other Wildlife Diseases

Science Center Objects

Wildlife diseases are an important stressor to some wildlife species. Patuxent scientists work with birds and amphibians to understand how diseases affect their populations. Our scientists are at work on a broad range of questions to understand wildlife disease.  Our research is working to answer questions like “How might differences in tick behavior influence the risk of Lyme disease for humans?” and “How does the life strategy of different birds affect their gut microbes and in turn affect their immune system’s ability to respond to new threats?”

Blacklegged Ticks are Lyme Disease Carriers

(Credit: Graham Hickling. Public domain.)



Vector-borne Disease Research

Lyme disease, which is caused by a tick-transmitted spirochete, is the most common vector-borne disease in North America, with about 300,000 cases each year. Most cases occur in the northeastern and north central U.S., with relatively few in the south, even though the vector tick is present in all of these regions. The purpose of this research is to elucidate the ecological reasons for this geographical gradient in Lyme disease.












Field work sampling for disease

(Public domain.)



Assessing Amphibian Disease Risk in the Northeast

Disease in amphibian populations can have a range of effects, from devastating declines following introduction of a novel pathogen to recurring breakout events on a landscape. Elucidating mechanisms underlying the effects of diseases on amphibian populations is crucial to help managers make appropriate decisions to achieve management goals for amphibians.