Public Lecture

Triple Whammy: Exploring the Effects of Prescribed Fire and Rising Temperature on Tick-borne Diseases

FOLASHADE AGUSTO (University of Kansas)

Recently tick ranges have been expanding due in part to rising temperatures as consequences of climate change, increasing the risk of tick-borne illnesses, and necessitating practical ways of managing tick populations. Prescribed fires is a commonly used land management practice that is time and cost efficient. This lecture will discuss the effects of prescribed fire intensity (low and high) and the duration between burns on the prevalence of tick-borne illnesses as temperature rises, and explore the effect of prescribed burns on the establishment of ticks into new areas. The results indicate that prescribed fire intensity has a larger impact in reducing disease prevalence than the frequency between burns. Infrequent burns, however, are ineffective at preventing tick establishment since populations can recover quickly following a burn, while frequent long-term prescribed burns can slow and possibly prevent tick establishment into new areas.


Folashade Agusto is an applied mathematician in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at the University of Kansas. She designs novel models to gain insights and mitigate the risks posed to public health by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Since 2017 she has engaged in a “mobile training clinic” in West Africa, visiting Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. The clinic involves training workshops for graduate students in ecology, epidemiology, and dynamical system analysis using seed funds from CIMPA through the African Mathematical Union. The mobile training clinic will be on the move to another African country in the summer of 2024 or 2025.