The Impacts of Climate Change on Ticks and Tick-Borne Disease Risk

Annu Rev Entomol. 2021 Jan 7;66:373-388. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-052720-094533.


Ticks exist on all continents and carry more zoonotic pathogens than any other type of vector. Ticks spend most of their lives in the external environment away from the host and are thus expected to be affected by changes in climate. Most empirical and theoretical studies demonstrate or predict range shifts or increases in ticks and tick-borne diseases, but there can be a lot of heterogeneity in such predictions. Tick-borne disease systems are complex, and determining whether changes are due to climate change or other drivers can be difficult. Modeling studies can help tease apart and understand the roles of different drivers of change. Predictive models can also be invaluable in projecting changes according to different climate change scenarios. However, validating these models remains challenging, and estimating uncertainty in predictions is essential. Another focus for future research should be assessing the resilience of ticks and tick-borne pathogens to climate change.

Keywords: Ixodes ricinus; Ixodes scapularis; Lyme borreliosis; deer; environment; tick-borne encephalitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Climate Change*
  • Humans
  • Tick-Borne Diseases*
  • Ticks*