The Amblyomma genus of ticks comprises species that are aggressive human biters and vectors of pathogens. Numerous species in the genus are undergoing rapid range expansion. Amblyomma ticks have occasionally been introduced into California, but as yet, no established populations have been reported in the state. Because California has high ecological diversity and is a transport hub for potentially parasitized humans and animals, the risk of future Amblyomma establishment may be high. We used ecological niche modeling to predict areas in California suitable for four tick species that pose high risk to humans: Amblyomma americanum, Amblyomma maculatum, Amblyomma cajennense and Amblyomma mixtum. We collected presence data in the Americas for each species from the published literature and online databases. Twenty-three climatic and ecological variables were used in a MaxEnt algorithm to predict the distribution of each species. The minimum temperature of the coldest month was an important predictor for all four species due to high mortality of Amblyomma at low temperatures. Areas in California appear to be ecologically suitable for A. americanum, A. maculatum, and A. cajennense, but not A. mixtum. These findings could inform targeted surveillance prior to an invasion event, to allow mitigation actions to be quickly implemented.
- Invasive species
- Species distribution modeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science