Ecosystems provide important services to the human society, yet, enhancing wildlife can also have its drawbacks for human health and well-being. A major challenge with current climate change is the emergence of tick-borne diseases (TBD), and the World Health Organization identifies Lyme disease as a priority TBD. Climate warming has positive direct effects on tick abundance at northern latitudes, however the importance of indirect climatic effects through host populations is not well known. An important theme in the climate effect literature is the extent to which timing of seasonal activity (phenology) of interacting species responds similarly to warming, making hosts either more or less seasonally available to ticks. The main aim of #TimeLyme is to provide a better understanding of the emergence of TBD at the northern range limits.
The #TimeLyme project aim to quantify how incidence and seasonal timing of Lyme disease in humans has developed over years across Norway (1995-2019). We will quantify how timing of migration of red deer affects seasonal niche overlap with ticks and in turn disease incidence. We will also quantify variation in small mammal abundances and timing of activity, tick load and infection prevalence depending on climate. Lastly, we provide a synthesis by quantifying the relative role of direct climate effects on ticks and indirect effects through hosts (small mammals, birds, deer) for Lyme disease incidence. Societal impact is secured by actively involving Norwegian Institute for Public Health and Norwegian Veterinary Institute in the project.