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Keywords:

  • simulation model;
  • seasonality;
  • net growth rate;
  • Hyalomma marginatum

Summary

A dynamic population model of Hyalomma marginatum, the vector of several pathogens in the western Palearctic, was developed to simulate effects of temperature and water vapour deficit (VD) on tick survival, development rates and seasonality. Base tick survival and development rates were obtained from laboratory-controlled experiments or calculated from reported data. These rates were modelled as temperature-dependant time delays or accumulated mortality by temperature and water VD stress. Using daily data derived from a gridded data set at 10-min resolution, the model reached stable and cyclical equilibria in an area that corresponds largely with the reported distribution of the tick in western Palearctic. The model did not identify a potential range of suitable climate for the tick out of the known distribution area, implying that under current climate conditions, there is no potential to spread at the spatial scale of the model. Tick die-out at northern latitudes was attributed to a steady increase in duration of the development rates of engorged nymphs to adults and hence increased mortality in this stage. Low developmental rates in northern latitudes produced the accumulation of most of the nymphal stock in late summer and early autumn, which cannot moult to adults because of the low temperatures of late autumn and winter. The tick did not produced self-sustained populations in areas where yearly accumulated temperatures were below 3000–4000°C, a limit roughly found at latitudes north of 47ºN. Tick die-out in sites southern to 34ºN was attributed to the mortality rates of engorged nymphs, which moult in late spring and summer, in the season where temperatures and water vapour stresses were highest. These findings and future applications of the model in investigating the dynamics of pathogens potentially transmitted by H. marginatum are discussed.