Date of Award
Union College Only
Bachelor of Arts
Environmental Science and Policy
habitat, management, albany, bush, disease
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is an ecosystem featuring sandy soils and forest fires. These soils create microclimates ideal for the survival of Ixodes scapularis, the tick vector responsible for transmission of Lyme disease. In response to invasive species, the Albany Pine Bush Commission uses taxpayer money for habitat maintenance to preserve biodiversity. Therefore, I examined the costs and benefits of habitat management in this habitat. Unlike most studies, this analysis values both biodiversity and Lyme disease abatement. Environmental literature suggests that habitat management can reduce the density of I. scapularis, and thus the risk of Lyme disease infection. Accordingly, this study measures the value of habitat management from a perspective previously unexplored in the literature. This hypothesis was tested by sampling I. scapularis population density throughout the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Density sampling revealed that tick density was reduced by over 99% in areas where black locust removal occurred, indicating that habitat management can reduce Lyme disease risk in the Albany Pine Bush preserve. Values for biodiversity and Lyme disease abatement were derived from a contingent valuation survey distributed to individuals living adjacent to the preserve. These values were then compared through a cost-benefit analysis. Responses were used to develop upper and lower bound per annum willingness to pay values to create a range of benefits for the remediation. Costs were provided by the Albany Pine Bush Commission. A Net Present Value (NPV) technique was then used to evaluate the costs and benefits of habitat management in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve across a variety of cost-benefit scenarios. These techniques revealed that habitat management is a cost effective means of both preserving biodiversity and reducing Lyme disease risk across a wide range of habitat management scenarios, with all calculations proving cost effective. Net present values ranged from a high of over $537,000,000 to a low of over $7,000,000, with an average net present value across all scenarios of approximately $165,000,000.
Morlando, Scott G., "The economics of disease ecology : a study of lyme disease, habitat management, and cost-benefit analysis in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve" (2008). Honors Theses. 1554.