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Dr. Fischhoff’s research focuses on the ecological and social drivers of tick-borne disease risk. Using methods ranging from microcosm experiments to meta-analyses, Dr. Fischhoff seeks to better understand patterns of disease risk and identify ways people can reduce their risk.
Various microbes, insects, and spiders have been observed to kill ticks, but their role in regulating tick abundance is not well understood. The use of these tick consumers (“natural enemies”) as biocontrol agents shows much promise. Using lab and field experiments combined with observations of ticks in yards, Dr. Fischhoff is investigating the roles of soil microbial communities and wolf spiders as natural enemies of ticks. Current research also examines how commercial tick biocontrol agents interact with natural enemies and native insect communities.
Where are people most at risk of coming into contact with infected ticks? Understanding where people are at risk is important to informing decisions by households and communities about where to focus efforts at tick control and tick bite prevention. Characterizing environmental and human behavioral factors that influence risk further supports choices to reduce risk. Dr. Fischhoff is using existing data to examine the spatial, ecological, and behavioral patterns of tick-borne disease risk.
This research takes place in Dutchess County and is a contribution to The Tick Project.