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Evaluating a mixed abiotic-biotic model for the distribution and host contact rates of an arthropod vector of pathogens: An example with Ixodes ricinus (Ixodidae)

Estrada-Pena A., Adkin A., Bertolini S., Cook C., Crescio M.I., Grosbois V., Horigan V., Ip S., Léger A., Mastrantonio G., Maurella C., De Nardi M., Ru G., Simons R., Snary E., Staerk K., Taylor R., Smith G.C.. 2019. Microbial Risk Analysis, 13 : 9 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.mran.2018.12.001

Modelling the range of prominent vectors of pathogens is a common technique used for planning surveys, building exposure assessment estimations or addressing the impact of future climate scenarios. In most cases the recorded distribution of a target species is used together several environmental variables to capture its potential distribution, ignoring the availability of adequate hosts for the arthropod. In this study we used satellite-recorded, Fourier transformed, environmental variables of ground temperature and vegetation (NDVI) and a large dataset of records of the tick Ixodes ricinus and their hosts. The aim is to evaluate the influence of the contact rates of the ticks with the different hosts and how they impact on the raw, environmental-based distribution of the tick. These effects may alter the estimations of the distribution of the tick under future climate scenarios. This study demonstrated that the relative contribution of the hosts supporting the feeding of the tick life stages dramatically altered the expected distribution of the tick. In the study case, results support that both Passeriformes (Aves) and Rodentia-Soricomorpha contribute in different ways to the colonization of the tick along a large latitudinal gradient. However, Artiodactyla are the main supporters of the tick and enhance its presence in the fringe of its distribution area. Thus, complete data on the distribution of each host contributing to the tick's life cycle and their relative importance for the tick, should be included in the assessment of exposure by arthropods. Other results of the study suggested that more information could be obtained exploring the association of the arthropod to the variables in the environmental niche, instead of the classic approach based on a crude evaluation on the geographical space (maps).

Mots-clés : ixodes ricinus; Écologie; environnement; distribution des populations; interactions biologiques; passeriformes; oiseau; soricidae; rongeur; imagerie par satellite; analyse multivariée

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