Exploring the Current and Future Potential Distributions of Four Lyme Disease Hosts

Authors: Gregory Arther*, University of Wisconsin - Platteville, Laura Lynnette Dornak, University of Wisconsin - Platteville
Topics: Biogeography, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: disease, Lyme, climate change, species distribution, niche modeling, GIS, disease vectors
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Lafayette, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Lyme disease is the most prevalent of vector-borne disease in North America with incidence of the disease increasing significantly in recent years. The disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through infected deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are important in the life cycles of the adults, however, four species are known reservoir hosts for the bacteria: the white-footed mouse (Permyscus leucopus), eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), short-tailed shrew (Sorex brevicauda), and masked shrew (Sorex cinereus). These rodents make up 80–90% of transmissions, with the white-footed mouse considered the principle reservoir. Distributions of disease vectors and pathogens will likely be affected by climate change. We used ecological niche modeling to explore the current (2000) and future (2050 and 2070) potential distributions of the tick vector and the four rodent host reservoir species. The deer, however, was not modeled due to the ubiquitous nature of its range. We used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) representative concentration pathways (RCP) for the minimum (2.6) and maximum (8.5) trajectories of anthropogenic radiative forcings. Northward expansion of ranges was evident for all species. We used summative models to determine richness of host species within the limits of the modeled distribution of the tick vector. Overall, areas where multiple species overlap increased and shifted northward for both climate projections (more so for RCP 8.5), and thus expanding the potential for Lyme disease transmission.

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