The abundance of Ixodes scapularis Say (Ixodes dammini Spielman, Clifford, Piesman & Corwin), the vector tick of the Lyme disease spirochete and other human pathogens, is related to the presence of its primary reproductive stage host, white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman). However, this relationship has not been quantified in terms that would guide wildlife management in areas in which the public is, or is likely to become, exposed to infected ticks. In this study, deer density and tick abundance were measured in an emergent area for Lyme disease at three spatial scales using estimation methods appropriate for each. Simple linear regression was used to relate (1) the number of ticks found on deer at tagging stations in southern Maine to harvest-derived estimates of the density of deer within the towns in which they were killed, (2) tick densities estimated from fall flagging counts to deer densities estimated from pellet group counts made within multiple transects distributed through 5.2-km2 study sites, and (3) tick counts to pellet group counts within the individual transects. At the broadest scale, ticks on deer decreased with elevation and distance from the coast and increased with deer density, although deer and tick presence were only weakly related. Among the 5.2-km2 study sites and within individual transects, tick abundance related more strongly to deer pellet group counts. Few ticks were collected at deer densities <7/km2.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2