2023 Fieldwork begins!

We are well into the first month of TICKSOLVE fieldwork for 2023 at our Aberdeenshire and Wessex sites. This May we are surveying and collecting ticks from the same 60 sites (30 sites per study region) as last year to determine tick densities and then test for Borrelia. We have completed the tick surveys in the Wessex region and are one week into the tick surveys in Aberdeenshire. 

We have also started setting up trail cameras for a second year, in order determine the density of medium-sized vertebrates (deer, badgers, foxes, etc.) using the woodland sites as they also act as hosts for ticks. 105 trail cameras were deployed in the Aberdeenshire sites during the last week of April and we will be changing the locations of these cameras in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, 90 cameras were deployed in Wessex in the last two weeks. 

Along with tick surveys and camera trapping, the field teams in both the regions have also been carrying out vegetation surveys and deer scat surveys.  

Here’s wishing our team excellent weather this field season! 

NatureScot Blog post about the TickSolve project

February 2023 - Deer, Ticks, Lyme Disease and Ticksolve

NatureScot posted a blog about TickSolve and the deer captures at the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve.

January/February 2023 - Deer trapping in Aberdeenshire

Early January 2023 has seen the intial deer capture and tracking take place across the Aberdeenshire study site.
Vounteers have been trained to set-up and closely monitor deer nets across key deer routes, as well as receiving training in how to correctly restrain a captured deer while it is checked for ticks and a tracking collar attached.

14 November 2022 - Problem Framing Workshop Wessex

On the 14th of November members from our TickSolve team met in Fordingbridge, Hampshire for a workshop with stakeholders in the Wessex region for the first local framing workshop of the NERC-funded TickSolve project. Wessex is one of our two key focal landscapes for TickSolve, being a key hotspot for Lyme Disease in the UK, with expanding woodland and high populations of deer that can amplify tick populations. Our aim was to gather perceptions of local stakeholders on ticks, deer and land management practices, and possible interventions that could reduce exposure to tick-borne diseases. 15 stakeholders kindly contributed their time and knowledge, drawn from diverse occupations or backgrounds as land owners, land managers, deer managers, foresters and game keepers.

The afternoon consisted of guided conversations between groups discussing different aspects of ticks and tick borne disease and how to manage spread and impacts. The stakeholders used post-it notes to identify key issues and prioritise concerns and feasible interventions and lively discussions followed.

The insights gained from the workshop will help inform the project risk guidance and intervention scenarios that we will test out using computer models of tick-borne disease transmission and how risks to humans vary across the landscape. A full report on the workshop and next steps will be released in the New Year, which will also see the second local framing workshop held in Aberdeenshire, the second focal landscape for TickSolve, as well as a workshop for national level stakeholders involved in health, landscape and biodiversity management.
If you would like to find out more about TickSolve, and contribute to the co-production of the research, tools and guidance, feel free to get in touch at the following email: info_ticksolve@ceh.ac.uk

2nd September 2022

The teams working in the Aberdeenshire and Wessex study sites have been working hard through the summer, with a particularly busy August as live rodent trapping has started, alongside trail camera rotations and seasonal tick sampling.

In Aberdeenshire the third round of rotations of camera traps for deer and other large mammals were carried out across 30 woodland sites and 5 open sites in July. In August, the height of the cameras was lowered across all sites to sample rodent activity. In parallel, live rodent trapping was carried out across 8 sites to estimate wood mouse, bank vole and shrew abundance in the sites. An additional rotation of cameras for rodent sampling in the second half of August.

Similar activity has been taking place across the Wessex study sites, with rodent trapping continuing over the next fortnight. The team have had several encounters with particularly fesity yellow-necked mice as well as large number of slugs that have developed a taste for the bait and hay found in the traps.

1st June 2022 - 'Wessex' Fieldwork - Initial camera trapping

The team working in the southern study area around the New Forest have spent the past couple of weeks collecting questing ticks at 30 woodlands and 15 adjacent open habitats to estimate tick density in the study area across different woodland sizes.
The team set up camera trails in the woodland sites and five adjacent open habitats to understand the wildlife host community in the study landscape.
These cameras are triggered by movement and take pictures of any animal passing in front of it, with the hope of capturing photos of large mammals (deer, livestock) as well as medium size mammals (e.g. foxes and badgers) but also small rodents and birds.
Getting all the cameras in place and collecting tick samples wrapped up on May 27th and the team are now back in the office, entering data obtained and preparing for the next camera rotation that will begin Monday 6th June.

Poles set at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10m from the camera trail to add interpretation of distance of the animal from camera.

Poles set at 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10m from the camera trail to add interpretation of distance of the animal from camera. Photo: Sara Gandy

Trail camera

Camera trail placed low on a tree to capture images of wildlife hosts passing through the study site. Photo: Sara Gandy

Performing a 'tick drag'

Performing a 'tick drag' at one of the Aberdeenshire study sites. Photo: Tom Morrison

Collecting ticks

Collecting ticks in one of the study woodlands, after performing a 'tick drag'. Photo: Caroline Millins