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Worldwide niche and future potential distribution of Culicoides imicola, a major vector of bluetongue and african horse sickness viruses

Guichard S., Guis H., Tran A., Garros C., Balenghien T., Kriticos D.J.. 2014. PloS One, 9 (11) : 8 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112491

We modelled the ecoclimatic niche of Culicoides imicola, a major arthropod vector of midge-borne viral pathogens affecting ruminants and equids, at fine scale and on a global extent, so as to provide insight into current and future risks of disease epizootics, and increase current knowledge of the species' ecology. Based on the known distribution and ecology of C. imicola, the species' response to monthly climatic conditions was characterised using CLIMEX with 109 spatial resolution climatic datasets. The species' climatic niche was projected worldwide and under future climatic scenarios. The validated model highlights the role of irrigation in supporting the occurrence of C. imicola in arid regions. In Europe, the modelled potential distribution of C. imicola extended further West than its reported distribution, raising questions regarding ongoing process of colonization and non-climatic habitat factors. The CLIMEX model highlighted similar ecological niches for C. imicola and the Australasian C. brevitarsis raising questions on biogeography and biosecurity. Under the climate change scenarios considered, its' modelled potential distribution could expand northward in the Northern hemisphere, whereas in Africa its range may contract in the future. The biosecurity risks from bluetongue and African horse sickness viruses need to be re-evaluated in regions where the vector's niche is suitable. Under a warmer climate, the risk of vector-borne epizootic pathogens such as bluetongue and African horse sickness viruses are likely to increase as the climate suitability for C. imicola shifts poleward, especially in Western Europe.

Mots-clés : culicoides; vecteur de maladie; virus bluetongue; virus peste équine africaine; Écologie animale; surveillance épidémiologique; Évaluation du risque; distribution géographique; modèle mathématique; modélisation environnementale; zone climatique; transmission des maladies; ruminant; equidae; peste équine africaine; fièvre catarrhale du mouton; culicoides imicola

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