Ecological niche modeling the potential geographic distribution of four culicoides species of veterinary significance in florida, USA

Kristin E. Sloyer, Nathan D. Burkett-Cadena, Anni Yang, Joseph L. Corn, Stacey L. Vigil, Bethany L. McGregor, Samantha M. Wisely, Jason K. Blackburn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) is a viral arthropod-borne disease affecting wild and domestic ruminants, caused by infection with epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV). EHDV is transmitted to vertebrate animal hosts by biting midges in the genus Culicoides Latreille (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Culicoides sonorensis Wirth and Jones is the only confirmed vector of EHDV in the United States but is considered rare in Florida and not sufficiently abundant to support EHDV transmission. This study used ecological niche modeling to map the potential geographical distributions and associated ecological variable space of four Culicoides species suspected of transmitting EHDV in Florida, including Culicoides insignis Lutz, Culicoides stellifer (Coquillett), Culicoides debilipalpis Hoffman and Culicoides venustus Lutz. Models were developed with the Genetic Algorithm for Rule Set Production in DesktopGARP v1.1.3 using species occurrence data from field sampling along with environmental variables from WorldClim and Trypanosomiasis and Land use in Africa. For three Culicoides species (C. insignis, C. stellifer and C. debilipalpis) 96–98% of the presence points were predicted across the Florida landscape (63.8% - 72.5%). For C. venustus, models predicted 98.00% of presence points across 27.4% of Florida. Geographic variations were detected between species. Culicoides insignis was predicted to be restricted to peninsular Florida, and in contrast, C. venustus was predicted to be primarily in north Florida and the panhandle region. Culicoides stellifer and C. debilipalpis were predicted nearly statewide. Environmental conditions also differed by species, with some species’ ranges predicted by more narrow ranges of variables than others. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was a major predictor of C. venustus and C. insignis presence. For C. stellifer, Land Surface Temperature, Middle Infrared were the most limiting predictors of presence. The limiting variables for C. debilipalpis were NDVI Bi-Annual Amplitude and NDVI Annual Amplitude at 22.5% and 28.1%, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0206648
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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