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infectious disease; mosquito; National Ecological Observatory Network; parasite, pathogen, reservoir, rodent, sampling design, NEON Design, tick, vector, zoonoses


Parasites and pathogens are increasingly recognized as significant drivers of ecological and evolutionary change in natural ecosystems. Concurrently, transmission of infectious agents among human, livestock, and wildlife populations represents a growing threat to veterinary and human health. In light of these trends and the scarcity of long-term time series data on infection rates among vectors and reservoirs, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) will collect measurements and samples of a suite of tick-, mosquito-, and rodent-borne parasites through a continental-scale surveillance program. Here, we describe the sampling designs for these efforts, highlighting sampling priorities, field and analytical methods, and the data as well as archived samples to be made available to the research community. Insights generated by this sampling will advance current understanding of and ability to predict changes in infection and disease dynamics in novel, interdisciplinary, and collaborative ways.

Funding Source

The NEON is a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. At the time this paper was written, the project was managed under cooperative agreement by NEON, Inc. The material presented in this paper is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Service Agreement and RRA grant DBI-0752017. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of NEON, Inc., the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of the Army, or the U.S. Department of Defense. Similarly, changes to the designs proposed herein during implementation by NEON, Inc. do not necessarily reflect the scientific recommendations of the authors. This article and the designs presented within it were developed and written when Y.P. Springer and D. Hoekman were employed as the disease and insect ecologists, respectively, at NEON, Inc. The authors gratefully acknowledge C.M. Gibson and V.J. McKenzie for their contributions to early versions of these designs, and E.L.S. Hinckley and S.V. Ollinger for publication support. We also thank scientists and technicians of the NEON terrestrial observation systems team for their collaborative efforts to create the larger NEON terrestrial sampling plan of which these designs are a part. W. Barnett assisted with the writing of the power analysis code. Comments from J.R. Sauer, S.R. Campbell, S.C. Elmendorf, E.L.S. Hinckley, K.E. Levan, and two anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. NEON working group members are as follows: Tick and tick-borne parasite technical working group: B. F. Allan, C. B. Beard, L. B. Dustin Brisson, M. A. Diuk-Wasser, R. J. Eisen, H. D. Gaff, S. A. Hamer, N. H. Ogden, R. S. Ostfeld, J. Piesman, D. E. Sonenshine, A. Swei, and M. J. Yabsley; Mosquito and mosquito-borne parasite technical working group: C. M. Barker, R. Barrera, M. S. Blackmore, W. E. Bradshaw, D. H. Foley, H. S. Ginsberg, M. H. Hayden, C. M. Holzapfel, S. A. Juliano, L. D. Kramer, S. L. LaDeau, T. P. Livdahl, C. G. Moore, R. S. Nasci, W. K. Reisen, and H. M. Savage; Rodent-borne parasite technical working group: M. Begon, C. H. Calisher, J. E. Childs, R. J. Douglass, J. E. Foley, S. L. Gardner, G. E. Glass, B. Hjelle, A. J. Kuenzi, J. N. Mills, S. Morand, and R. R. Parmenter.



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