Amblyomma ticks and future climate: Range contraction due to climate warming

Stefan Vilges de Oliveira, Daniel Romero-Alvarez, Thiago Fernandes Martins, Janduhy Pereira dos Santos, Marcelo B. Labruna, Gilberto Salles Gazeta, Luis E. Escobar, Rodrigo Gurgel-Gonçalves

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Ticks of the Amblyomma cajennense species complex are important vectors of spotted fever in Latin America. Environmental conditions determine the geographic distribution of ticks, such that climate change could influence the distribution of tick-borne diseases. This study aimed to analyze the potential geographic distribution of A. cajennense complex ticks in a Brazil region under present-day and future climate models, assuming dispersal limitations and non-evolutionary adaptation of these tick populations to climate warming. Records of A. cajennense sensu stricto (s.s.) and Amblyomma sculptum were analyzed. Niche models were calibrated using Maxent considering climate variables for 1950–2000 and projecting models to conditions anticipated for 2050 and 2070 under two models of future climate (CCSM4 and HadGEM2-AO). Broad suitable areas for A. cajennense s.s. and A. sculptum were found in present-day climate models, but suitability was reduced when models were projected to future conditions. Our exploration of future climates showed that broad areas had novel climates not existing currently in the study region, including novel extremely high temperatures. Indeed, predicted suitability in these novel conditions would lead to biologically unrealistic results and therefore incorrect forecasts of future tick-distribution. Previous studies anticipating expansions of vectors populations due to climate change should be considered with caution as they assume that model extrapolation anticipates that species would evolve rapidly for adaptation to novel climatic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-348
Number of pages9
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017


  • Climate change
  • Ecological niche modeling
  • Maxent
  • Spotted fever
  • Tick-borne diseases


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