Venomous snakes and climate change: ophidism as a dynamic problem
Snakebite envenoming is an important public health problem worldwide and addressing this issue has turned into a challenge for applied science. In this sense, the study of the distributional patterns of problematic snakes is central in terms of public health. Global Climate Change is affecting the distributional ranges of snakes, so that decisions regarding treatment of ophidism (poisoning by snake venom) may also change spatially and/or temporally. Here, we assessed suitable climate spaces at present conditions and estimated potential future changes in the distributions of the five southernmost venomous snakes, responsible for almost 99 % of accidents in Argentina, by implementing an ensemble of forecasts between different algorithms and scenarios for 2030 and 2080. Present suitable climate spaces showed high concordance with known distribution of the species. Future projections show moderate “north to south” displacements of the snakes’ suitable climate spaces, implying potential increments of suitable spaces in human populated areas in Argentina. Our results suggest the necessity of considering ophidism as a dynamic problem. In this regard, the analyses implemented here are useful tools in improving the assessment of snakebite envenoming in light of global climate change.