Drivers of zoonotic tick-borne pathogens in natural populations (research cost, second period)

Main funder

Funder's project number: 335651

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 199 989,00

Funding program

Project timetable

Project start date: 01/09/2020

Project end date: 31/08/2022


Multihost-vector-pathogen interactions are highly complex and there is an urgent need for a good model system to test the theoretically derived interrelationships. Ticks and tick-borne pathogens (TPBs) in Finland provide a tractable model system, while also presenting an increasing public health concern. The tick Ixodes ricinus, and consequently, many TBDs are expanding into new areas particularly in Northern Europe. Ticks are parasites that are strictly dependent on blood meals from their hosts to develop and reproduce, whereas TBPs depend upon their competent hosts, without whom the enzootic circulation of the pathogen is not possible. Crucially, the tick and the pathogen are often dependent on different types of host species. These kinds of complex multihost-tick-TBP –systems have so far being explored mainly theoretically and there is a shortage of empirical studies that incorporate the pathogen, the tick, and their respective host species, e.g. rodents and large mammals, due to the lack of tangible system where appropriate data can be collected. I will use a novel empirical and experimental study systems and datasets to quantify these complex interactions and mathematical modeling approaches to predict further changes.
The main objectives of the project are to
•determine the role of rodent host population density cycles in driving tick-borne pathogen (TBP) dynamics using long term field studies on B. afzelii, ticks and rodents
•quantify and experimentally test the effect of host community composition and density on the circulation of TBP using a novel large scale natural field experiment on island populations.
•estimate the role of potential drivers in human epidemics of tick-borne diseases by analysing extensive datasets on various key epidemiological drivers across Finland.
•assess how host community configuration and dynamics and their manipulation alter the persistence and transmission of TBPs using mathematical modelling
This project will quantify the key epidemiological factors that drive the circulation of the zoonotic Borrelia afzelii, estimate how these are translated into human Lyme borreliosis epidemics and predict the future changes in the infections under alternative ecological andmanagement scenarios in Northern Europe.

Principal Investigator

Primary responsible unit

Last updated on 2020-23-06 at 08:07