Estimating Sources of Valley Fever Pathogen Propagation in Southern Arizona: A Remote Sensing Approach
nocturnal desert rodents
construction-related soil disturbance
AdvisorYool, Stephen R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractCoccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) is an environmentally-mediated respiratory disease caused by the inhalation of airborne spores from the fungi Coccidioides spp. The fungi reside in arid and semi-arid soils of the Americas. The disease has increased epidemically in Arizona and other areas within the last two decades. Despite this increase, the ecology of the fungi remains obscure, and environmental antecedents of the disease are largely unstudied. Two sources of soil disturbance, hypothesized to affect soil ecology and initiate spore dissemination, are investigated. Nocturnal desert rodents interact substantially with the soil substrate. Rodents are hypothesized to act as a reservoir of coccidioidomycosis, a mediator of soil properties, and a disseminator of fungal spores. Rodent distributions are poorly mapped for the study area. We build automated multi-linear regression models and decision tree models for ten rodent species using rodent trapping data from the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (ORPI) in southwest Arizona with a combination of surface temperature, a vegetation index and its texture, and a suite of topographic rasters. Surface temperature, derived from Landsat TM thermal images, is the most widely selected predictive variable in both automated methods. Construction-related soil disturbance (e.g. road construction, trenching, land stripping, and earthmoving) is a significant source of fugitive dust, which decreases air quality and may carry soil pathogens. Annual differencing of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) mid-infrared images is used to create change images, and thresholded change areas are associated with coordinates of local dust inspections. The output metric identifies source areas of soil disturbance, and it estimates the annual amount of dust-producing surface area for eastern Pima County spanning 1994 through 2009. Spatially explicit construction-related soil disturbance and rodent abundance data are compared with coccidioidomycosis incidence data using rank order correlation and regression methods. Construction-related soil disturbance correlates strongly with annual county-wide incidence. It also correlates with Tucson periphery incidence aggregated to zip codes. Abundance values for the desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus), derived from a soil-adjusted vegetation index, aspect (northing) and thermal radiance, correlate with total study period incidence aggregated to zip code.
Degree ProgramGraduate College