Modeling the present and future geographic distribution of the Lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (Ixodida: Ixodidae), in the continental United States

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2015

Author(s): 

Springer, Y.P., C.S. Jarnevich, D.T. Barnett, A.J. Monaghan, R.J. Eisen

Suggested Citation: 

Springer, Y.P., C.S. Jarnevich, D.T. Barnett, A.J. Monaghan, R.J. Eisen. 2015. Modeling the Present and Future Geographic Distribution of the Lone Star Tick, Amblyomma americanum (Ixodida: Ixodidae), in the Continental United States. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 93: 875-890. https://dx.doi.org/10.4269/ajtmh.15-0330

The Lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum L.) is the primary vector for pathogens of significant public health importance in North America, yet relatively little is known about its current and potential future distribution. Building on a published summary of tick collection records, we used an ensemble modeling approach to predict the present-day and future distribution of climatically suitable habitat for establishment of the Lone star tick within the continental United States. Of the nine climatic predictor variables included in our five present-day models, average vapor pressure in July was by far the most important determinant of suitable habitat. The present-day ensemble model predicted an essentially contiguous distribution of suitable habitat extending to the Atlantic coast east of the 100th western meridian and south of the 40th northern parallel, but excluding a high elevation region associated with the Appalachian Mountains. Future ensemble predictions for 2061–2080 forecasted a stable western range limit, northward expansion of suitable habitat into the Upper Midwest and western Pennsylvania, and range contraction along portions of the Gulf coast and the lower Mississippi river valley. These findings are informative for raising awareness of A. americanum-transmitted pathogens in areas where the Lone Star tick has recently or may become established.

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Catherine Jarnevich
Catherine Jarnevich