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, 80 (2), 227-245

Predicting the Potential Distribution of Amblyomma Americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) Infestation in New Zealand, Using Maximum Entropy-Based Ecological Niche Modelling

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Predicting the Potential Distribution of Amblyomma Americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) Infestation in New Zealand, Using Maximum Entropy-Based Ecological Niche Modelling

R K Raghavan et al. Exp Appl Acarol.

Abstract

Although currently exotic to New Zealand, the potential geographic distribution of Amblyomma americanum (L.), the lone star tick, was modelled using maximum entropy (MaxEnt). The MaxEnt model was calibrated across the native range of A. americanum in North America using present-day climatic conditions and occurrence data from museum collections. The resulting model was then projected onto New Zealand using both present-day and future climates modelled under two greenhouse gas emission scenarios, representative concentration pathways (RCP) 4.5 (low) and RCP 8.5 (high). Three sets of WorldClim bioclimatic variables were chosen using the jackknife method and tested in MaxEnt using different combinations of model feature class functions and regularization multiplier values. The preferred model was selected based on partial receiver operating characteristic tests, the omission rate and the lowest Akaike information criterion. The final model had four bioclimatic variables, Annual Mean Temperature (BIO1), Annual Precipitation (BIO12), Precipitation Seasonality (BIO15) and Precipitation of Driest Quarter (BIO17), and the projected New Zealand distribution was broadly similar to that of Haemaphysalis longicornis Neumann, New Zealand's only livestock tick, but with a more extensive predicted suitability. The climate change predictions for the year 2050 under both low and high RCP scenarios projected only moderate increases in habitat suitability along the mountain valleys in the South Island. In conclusion, this analysis shows that given the opportunity and license A. americanum could and would successfully establish in New Zealand and could provide another vector for theileriosis organisms.

Keywords: Amblyomma americanum; Ecological niche modelling; MaxEnt; New zealand; Tick.

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