An update on distribution models for Rhipicephalus microplus in West Africa

  • Eva M. De Clercq | eva.declercq@uclouvain.be Georges Lemaître Institute for Earth and Climate Research, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.
  • Agustin Estrada-Peña Unidad de Parasitología, Facultad de Veterinaria, Zaragoza, Spain.
  • Safiou Adehan Ministère de l’Agriculture de l’Elevage et de la Pêche/CeRPA-OP/Service Recherche Developpement, Porto Novo, Benin.
  • Maxime Madder Vector Biology Unit, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium.
  • Sophie O. Vanwambeke Georges Lemaître Institute for Earth and Climate Research, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

Abstract

The cattle tick, Rhipicephalus microplus, which reached the West African region approximately 8 years ago, has established viable populations in Côte d’Ivoire and Benin and spread rapidly from the assumed points of introduction. However, existing maps of its distribution range do not agree on the areas at risk, most probably due to suboptimal modelling approaches. Therefore, we undertook a re-investigation of the potential distribution range based on a high-quality dataset from West Africa that includes information on 104 farms located all over Benin. Focussing on climate suitability and applying advanced modelling, a subset of representative and uncorrelated climate variables was selected and fed into Maxent software to obtain an estimate of climate suitability for West Africa. The resulting map was validated using an independent dataset of 13 farms along the apparent distribution edge. The entire southern part of West Africa (covering southern Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana) features high climate suitability for R. microplus. All of Côte d’Ivoire is inside the distribution range of this tick and the southern rim of Burkina Faso is expected to be suitable for the establishment of R. microplus populations. The validation of the distribution, dated one year after the initial field visit, confirmed the predicted distribution range, although a small number of individuals of R. microplus were found north of the predicted limit. These low numbers might indicate that the climate is not suitable for the establishment of a viable tick population. An alternative explanation is the recent introduction by nomadic cattle herds passing through this location. In this region of the world, it is quite common for cattle owners to lead their livestock over distances of more than 500 km in search of food and water.

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Published
2013-11-01
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Original Articles
Keywords:
Rhipicephalus microplus, invasive species, species distribution models, climate suitability, Maxent, West Africa.
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How to Cite
De Clercq, E. M., Estrada-Peña, A., Adehan, S., Madder, M., & Vanwambeke, S. O. (2013). An update on distribution models for Rhipicephalus microplus in West Africa. Geospatial Health, 8(1), 301-308. https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2013.75