Climate change influences on the global potential distribution of bluetongue virus

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The geographic distribution of arboviruses has received considerable attention after several dramatic emergence events around the world. Bluetongue virus (BTV) is classified among category "A" diseases notifiable to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), and is transmitted among ruminants by biting midges of the genus Culicoides. Here, we developed a comprehensive occurrence data set to map the current distribution, estimate the ecological niche, and explore the future potential distribution of BTV globally using ecological niche modeling and based on diverse future climate scenarios from general circulation models (GCMs) for four representative concentration pathways (RCPs). The broad ecological niche and potential geographic distribution of BTV under present-day conditions reflected the disease's current distribution across the world in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions. All model predictions were significantly better than random expectations. As a further evaluation of model robustness, we compared our model predictions to 331 independent records from most recent outbreaks from the Food and Agriculture Organization Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases Information System (EMPRES-i); all were successfully anticipated by the BTV model. Finally, we tested ecological niche similarity among possible vectors and BTV, and could not reject hypotheses of niche similarity. Under future-climate conditions, the potential distribution of BTV was predicted to broaden, especially in central Africa, United States, and western Russia.




Samy, A. M., & Peterson, A. T. (2016). Climate change influences on the global potential distribution of bluetongue virus. PLoS ONE, 11(3).

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