Ecological Niche Models of Four Hard Tick Genera (Ixodidae) in Mexico

Animals (Basel). 2020 Apr 9;10(4):649. doi: 10.3390/ani10040649.


Ticks are vectors of a large number of pathogens of medical and veterinary importance, and in recent years, they have participated in the rise of multiple infectious outbreaks around the world. Studies have proposed that temperature and precipitation are the main variables that limit the geographical distribution of ticks. The analysis of environmental constraints with ecological niche modeling (ENM) techniques can improve our ability to identify suitable areas for emergence events. Algorithms used in this study showed different distributional patterns for each tick genera; the environmental suitability for Amblyomma includes warm and humid localities below 1000 m above the sea level, while Ixodes is mainly associated with ecosystems with high vegetation cover. Dermacentor and Rhipicephalus genus presented wider distribution patterns; the first includes species that are well adapted to resist desiccation, whereas the latter includes generalist species that are mostly associated with domestic hosts in Mexico. Ecological niche models have proven to be useful in estimating the geographic distribution of many taxa of ticks. Despite our limited knowledge of tick's diversity, ENM can improve our understanding of the dynamics of vector-borne diseases and can assist public health decision-making processes.

Keywords: Amblyomma; Dermacentor; Ixodes; Rhipicephalus; ecological niche modelling.