Forest landowners in southern and coastal Maine are partnering with University of Maine researchers as part of the state’s first active tick surveillance citizen science program.
The Maine Forest Tick Survey based at UMaine seeks volunteer landowners with 10–1,000 wooded acres in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Hancock, Knox, Kennebec, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Waldo and York counties. The citizen scientists will collect ticks for identification and testing for associated pathogens, and send them to the university for analysis. Online training and collection materials, including drag cloths and vials, will be provided for volunteers in June.
Sampling will begin in July, the month when black-legged tick nymphs (the life stage responsible for most human infections) are active. Participating citizen scientists will be asked to sample for ticks on three days throughout the month for an hour each day, and will receive the identification and pathogen test results of their tick samples, as well as reports about the findings of the entire project, during the winter.
The Maine Forest Tick Survey focuses on helping landowners understand tick-borne risks in their woods in order to protect themselves. The researchers leading the survey — faculty members Allison Gardner, Jessica Leahy and Carly Sponarski — also are studying the relationship between land management practices and tick-borne risk to help better protect landowners, recreationists and forest workers in Maine.
More information about the Maine Forest Tick Survey, including how to volunteer, is available online or by contacting Elissa Ballman, the citizen science coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow project updates on Facebook and Twitter.