Ticks were collected from 20 sites in the Calhoun, Cherokee, and Cleburne Counties in east-central Alabama areas to determine the relationship between plant physiognomy, environmental variables, and tick populations. Sites investigated included various burning regimes, wildland-urban—interface (WUI), a college campus, and an unmanaged area. Amblyomma americanum (L.) (Acari: Ixodidae) dominated the tick population while Ixodes scapularis Say was not encountered. There were complex differences in tick populations among site conditions. After prescribed burning, the tick population size was small but was larger in subsequent 2- and 5-year post-burn sites. An increase in Odocoileus virginianus foraging in recently burned sites is likely responsible for this phenomenon. WUI areas had the largest tick populations likely due to Odocoileus virginianus activity in an area that provides cover, forage, and a connection to a wildlife refuge. It is possible that the likelihood of humans coming in contact with ticks and tick-borne diseases is greater in WUI areas than in unbroken contiguous forest. A. americanum showed a positive correlation with percent cover of grass and leaf litter mass and a negative relationship with pine sapling density. Variables expected to be strongly correlated with A. americanum populations such as soil moisture, canopy closure, and tree density were found to have weak correlations.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2