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Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld

Disease Ecologist | PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Expertise
disease ecology, Lyme disease, West Nile virus

845 677-7600 x136

Richard Ostfeld studies the ecology of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases such as Powassan viral encephalitis, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. By understanding the factors that influence tick abundance and infection, Ostfeld and his team can predict when and where exposure to tick-borne diseases will be high.

Ostfeld and his Bard College collaborator Felicia Keesing direct The Tick Project – a five-year study that is testing two tick control methods in residential neighborhoods throughout Dutchess County, NY. The goal: devise an effective approach to controlling tick-borne diseases that could be adopted by local municipalities, community groups, and neighborhoods. Changing climatic conditions can affect tick survival and reproduction.

Ostfeld studies the effects of environmental variables on tick survival, behavior, and population performance to predict where Lyme disease will spread as the climate warms. Ostfeld’s team is also investigating the communities of viruses that live within blacklegged ticks and an important host, the white-footed mouse. They are determining what viruses ticks and mice carry, the mechanisms by which these viruses are transmitted, and whether they could cause illness in humans.

Ostfeld has studied the relationship between land use and infectious disease for over 20 years. Development of forested areas can degrade or fragment wildlife habitat, causing species diversity to decline. Predators like foxes and owls, which feed on mice, are sensitive to fragmentation. The loss of predators can lead to more mice and fewer non-mouse hosts for ticks, increasing the abundance of Lyme-infected ticks and disease risk for humans.

Kumar, D, LP Downs, A Adegoke, E Machtinger, K. Oggenfuss, Richard S. Ostfeld, M Embers, and S Karim. (FEB) 2022. “An Exploratory Study On The Microbiome Of Northern And Southern Populations Of Ixodes Scapularis Ticks Predicts Changes And Unique Bacterial Interactions”. Pathogens 11 (2). doi:10.3390/pathogens11020130.
Aristizabal-Henao, Juan J., Hannah Brown, Emily K. Griffin, Richard S. Ostfeld, K. Oggenfuss, Brandon M. Parker, Samantha M. Wisely, and John A. Bowden. 2021. “Ticks As Novel Sentinels To Monitor Environmental Levels Of Per- And Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (Pfas)”. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts. Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). doi:10.1039/d1em00209k.
Rubino, Francesca I., K. Oggenfuss, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2021. “Effects Of Physical Impairments On Fitness Correlates Of The White-Footed Mouse, Peromyscus Leucopus”. Proceedings Of The Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 288 (1962). The Royal Society. doi:10.1098/rspb.2021.1942.
Keesing, Felicia, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2021. “Dilution Effects In Disease Ecology”. Jonathan Chase. Ecology Letters. Wiley. doi:10.1111/ele.13875.
Keesing, Felicia, D. J. McHenry, M. H. Hersh, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2021. “Spatial And Temporal Patterns Of The Emerging Tick-Borne Pathogen Borrelia Miyamotoi In Blacklegged Ticks (Ixodes Scapularis) In New York”. Parasites & Vectors 14 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1186/s13071-020-04569-2.
Keesing, Felicia, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2021. “Impacts Of Biodiversity And Biodiversity Loss On Zoonotic Diseases”. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences 118 (17). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: e2023540118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2023540118.
Vila, Montserrat, Alison M Dunn, Franz Essl, Elena Gomez-Diaz, Philip E Hulme, Jonathan M Jeschke, MartÍn A Nunez, et al. 2021. “Viewing Emerging Human Infectious Epidemics Through The Lens Of Invasion Biology”. Bioscience. Oxford University Press (OUP). doi:10.1093/biosci/biab047.
Heaney, Christopher D., Katherine A. Moon, Richard S. Ostfeld, Jonathan Pollak, Melissa N. Poulsen, Annemarie G. Hirsch, Joseph DeWalle, John N. Aucott, and Brian S. Schwartz. 2021. “Relations Of Peri-Residential Temperature And Humidity In Tick-Life-Cycle-Relevant Time Periods With Human Lyme Disease Risk In Pennsylvania, Usa”. Science Of The Total Environment 795. Elsevier BV: 148697. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.148697.
Fischhoff, Ilya R., Tao Huang, Stephen K. Hamilton, Barbara A. Han, Shannon L. LaDeau, Richard S. Ostfeld, Emma J. Rosi, and Christopher T. Solomon. 2020. “Parasite And Pathogen Effects On Ecosystem Processes: A Quantitative Review”. Ecosphere 11 (5). Wiley. doi:10.1002/ecs2.3057.
Magnusson, M., Ilya R. Fischhoff, F. Ecke, B. Hornfeldt, and Richard S. Ostfeld. (Mar) 2020. “Effect Of Spatial Scale And Latitude On Diversity-Disease Relationships”. Ecology 101 (3).
Ostfeld, Richard S., and F. Keesing. (Aug) 2020. “Species That Can Make Us Ill Thrive In Human Habitats”. Nature 584 (7821).
Ostfeld, Richard S., and Felicia Keesing. 2020. “Planetary Health And Infectious Disease”. In Planetary Health: Protecting Nature To Protect Ourselves, Samuel Myers and Frumkin, Howard, 141-164. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. https://islandpress.org/books/planetary-health.
Vandegrift, Kurt J., Arvind Kumar, Himanshu Sharma, Satyapramod Murthy, Laura D. Kramer, Richard S. Ostfeld, Peter J. Hudson, and Amit Kapoor. 2020. “Presence Of Segmented Flavivirus Infections In North America”. Emerging Infectious Diseases 26 (8). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). doi:10.3201/eid2608.190986.
Fischhoff, Ilya R., Felicia Keesing, Jennifer Pendleton, Deanna DePietro, Marissa Teator, Shannon Duerr, Stacy Mowry, Ashley Pfister, Shannon L. LaDeau, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Assessing Effectiveness Of Recommended Residential Yard Management Measures Against Ticks”. Journal Of Medical Entomology 56 (5). Oxford University Press (OUP): 1420-1427. doi:10.1093/jme/tjz077.
Landesman, W.J., Kenneth Mulder, B. F. Allan, Laura Bashor, Felicia Keesing, Kathleen M. LoGiudice, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Potential Effects Of Blood Meal Host On Bacterial Community Composition In Ixodes Scapularis Nymphs”. Ticks And Tick-Borne Diseases 10 (3): 523 - 527. doi:10.1016/j.ttbdis.2019.01.002.
Fischhoff, Ilya R., Felicia Keesing, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Risk Factors For Bites And Diseases Associated With Black-Legged Ticks: A Meta-Analysis”. American Journal Of Epidemiology 188 (9). Oxford University Press (OUP): 1742-1750. doi:10.1093/aje/kwz130.
Mowry, Stacy, Felicia Keesing, Ilya R. Fischhoff, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Predicting Larval Tick Burden On White-Footed Mice With An Artificial Neural Network”. Ecological Informatics 52: 150 - 158. doi:10.1016/j.ecoinf.2019.04.002.
Han, Barbara A., and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Topic Modeling Of Major Research Themes In Disease Ecology Of Mammals”. Journal Of Mammalogy 100 (3). Oxford University Press (OUP): 1008-1018. doi:10.1093/jmammal/gyy174.
Fischhoff, Ilya R., Sarah E. Bowden, Felicia Keesing, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Tick-Borne Disease Risk Factors In Residential Yards, Neighborhoods, And Beyond”. Bmc Infectious Diseases 19 (1). Springer Science and Business Media LLC. doi:10.1186/s12879-019-4484-3.
Burtis, J. C., Joseph B. Yavitt, Timothy J. Fahey, and Richard S. Ostfeld. 2019. “Ticks As Soil-Dwelling Arthropods: An Intersection Between Disease And Soil Ecology”. Howard Ginsberg. Journal Of Medical Entomology 56 (6). Oxford University Press (OUP): 1555-1564. doi:10.1093/jme/tjz116.

Current Projects


Books


ecology of lyme disease

Lyme Disease: The Ecology of a Complex System
Oxford University Press, 2011

ostfeld book

Infectious Disease Ecology: Effects of Ecosystems on Disease and of Disease on Ecosystems
Princeton University Press, 2008