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Past and future perspectives on mathematical models of tick-borne pathogens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2015

School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
Division of Computing Science and Mathematics, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
The James Hutton Institute, Craigiebuckler, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
*Corresponding author. School of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK. E-mail:


Ticks are vectors of pathogens which are important both with respect to human health and economically. They have a complex life cycle requiring several blood meals throughout their life. These blood meals take place on different individual hosts and potentially on different host species. Their life cycle is also dependent on environmental conditions such as the temperature and habitat type. Mathematical models have been used for the more than 30 years to help us understand how tick dynamics are dependent on these environmental factors and host availability. In this paper, we review models of tick dynamics and summarize the main results. This summary is split into two parts, one which looks at tick dynamics and one which looks at tick-borne pathogens. In general, the models of tick dynamics are used to determine when the peak in tick densities is likely to occur in the year and how that changes with environmental conditions. The models of tick-borne pathogens focus more on the conditions under which the pathogen can persist and how host population densities might be manipulated to control these pathogens. In the final section of the paper, we identify gaps in the current knowledge and future modelling approaches. These include spatial models linked to environmental information and Geographic Information System maps, and development of new modelling techniques which model tick densities per host more explicitly.

Special Issue Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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