Birds play an under-recognized role in spreading tick-borne diseases. They can travel long-distances and tend to split their time in different parts of the world, patterns that are shifting due to climate change. Now, a new study identifies which bird species could spread ticks and Lyme disease. WAMC’s Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Allison Dunne spoke with the lead author of the study.
Daniel Becker is a postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University. He and senior author Barbara Han, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Dutchess County, used machine learning to identify bird species with the potential to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium to feeding ticks. Becker says they turned to machine learning because there was a piece missing in the Lyme disease literature about the role birds and migratory birds could play.
The study is published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.