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Mapping current and future potential snakebite risk in the new world


Snakebite envenoming is an important public health concern worldwide. In the Americas, ~300,000 bites occur annually, leaving 84,110–140,981 envenomings and 652–3466 deaths. Here, we modeled current and future snakebite risk using ecological niche models (ENMs) of 90 venomous snake taxa. Current snakebite risk predictions were corroborated by incidence data from eight regions/periods with different characteristics. Detailed projections of potential future range shifts on distributions of the medically most relevant species indicated that North American species’ ranges are likely to increase in the future, but mixed results were obtained for Latin American snakes. A likely expansion of overall risk area and an increase of rural population at risk were observed from a consensus model among future scenarios. Our study highlights the capacity of ENMs to provide detailed information on current and future potential distributions of venomous snakes, as well as useful perspectives on snakebite risk, at least broad scales.

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We thank CONACYT for support the postdoctoral studies of Carlos Yañez-Arenas at the University of Kansas. Andrés Lira, Rafe Brown, Lindsay Campbell, Jorge Soberón, Enrique Martínez-Meyer, and Abdallah Samy provided valuable comments and discussion.

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Correspondence to Carlos Yañez-Arenas.

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Yañez-Arenas, C., Townsend Peterson, A., Rodríguez-Medina, K. et al. Mapping current and future potential snakebite risk in the new world. Climatic Change 134, 697–711 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1544-6

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  • Geographic Information System
  • General Circulation Model
  • Couple Model Intercomparison Project Phase
  • Venomous Snake
  • Representative Concentration Pathway