Impacts of Timber Harvest on Communities of Small Mammals, Ticks, and Tick-Borne Pathogens in a High-Risk Landscape in Northern California

Andres M. López-Pérez, Benjamin Plourde, Katie Smith, Francesca Rubino, Emily Pascoe, Olivia Smith, Janet Foley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Timber harvest may impact tick-borne disease by affecting small mammal and tick community structures. We assessed tick and small mammal populations in older second-growth redwood (Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl) habitat at two harvested sites in Santa Cruz County, California, where local risk of tick-borne disease is high and determined the prevalence of tick-borne pathogens in ticks. After single-tree removal harvest in 2014, there was a modest reduction in canopy, primarily toward the end of the study. Harvested sites showed strong reductions in California mouse (Peromyscus californicus, (Gambel)) captures 2-yr after harvest, resolving such that treatments and controls were comparable by the end of the study. Following harvest, treated sites experienced a transient decreased tick infestation while control plots experienced an increase. Ixodes angustus (Neumann) infestation probability on harvested plots decreased immediately after harvest, increasing with time but remaining lower than control plots, whereas I. pacificus (Cooley and Kohls) prevalence was higher shortly after the harvest on harvested plots, and continued to increase. Mean abundance of ticks on vegetation increased on control plots. We detected Borrelia burgdorferi ((Johnson et al.) Baranton) and Anaplasma phagocytophilum ((Foggie 1949) Dumler) in 3.8 and 3.1% of ticks on rodents, but no differences were associated with harvest. Impacts of forest harvest on tick-borne disease depend on removal practice and intensity, whether or not hosts are habitat specialists, and whether or not ticks are host specialists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1171-1187
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • abundance
  • rodent
  • tick-borne pathogens
  • ticks
  • timber harvest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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