Will climate change affect ectoparasite species ranges?

Authors

  • Graeme S. Cumming,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0430, USA and
      *Correspondence and current address: Graeme S. Cumming, Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, Cape Town, South Africa. E-mail: graeme@botzoo.uct.ac.za
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  • Detlef P. Van Vuuren

    1. MNP, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, PO Box 303, 3720 AH Bilthoven, The Netherlands
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*Correspondence and current address: Graeme S. Cumming, Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, Cape Town, South Africa. E-mail: graeme@botzoo.uct.ac.za

ABSTRACT

Aim  Over the next 100 years, human-driven climate change and resulting changes in species occurrences will have global impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem function, and human health. Here we examine how climate change may affect the occurrences of tick species in Africa and alter the suitability of habitat outside Africa for African ticks.

Location  Africa and the world.

Methods  We predicted continental and global changes in habitat suitability for each of 73 African tick species, using multiple regression models in different climate change scenarios that cover a wide range of uncertainty.

Results  Global habitat suitability improves for nearly all tick species under each of a representative range of eight climate change scenarios. Depending on the scenario, African tick species experience an average increase in global habitat suitability of between 1 million and 9 million square kilometres between 1990 and 2100.

Main conclusions  The potential for successful translocations of ticks and their pathogens from Africa to the rest of the world is likely to increase over the next 100 years. Although the general trend is one of range expansion, there are winners and losers among tick species in each scenario, suggesting that tick community composition will be disrupted substantially by climate change. If this is also typical of other invertebrates, then climate change will disrupt not only the geographic location of communities but also their structure. Changes in tick communities are also likely to influence tick-borne pathogens.

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