Background: Anopheles albimanus is among the most important vectors of human malaria in Mesoamerica and the Caribbean Basin (M-C). Here, we use topographic data and 1950-2000 climate (near present), and future climate (2080) layers obtained from general circulation models (GCMs) to project the probability of the species' presence, p(s), using the species distribution model MaxEnt.
Results: The projected near-present distribution parameterized with 314 presence points related well to the known geographic distribution in the study region. Different model experiments suggest that the range of An. albimanus based on near-present climate surfaces covered at least 1.27 million km² in the M-C, although 2080 range was projected to decrease to 1.19 million km². Modeled p(s) was generally highest in Mesoamerica where many of the original specimens were collected. MaxEnt projected near-present maximum elevation at 1,937 m whereas 2080 maximum elevation was projected at 2,118 m. 2080 climate scenarios generally showed increased p(s) in Mesoamerica, although results varied for northern South America and no major range expansion into the mid-latitudes was projected by 2080.
Conclusions: MaxEnt experiments with near present and future climate data suggest that An. albimanus is likely to invade high-altitude (>2,000 m) areas by 2080 and therefore place many more people at risk of malaria in the M-C region even though latitudinal range expansion may be limited.