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Projected shifts in the distribution of malaria vectors due to climate change

Abstract

Climate change is postulated to alter the distribution and abundance of species which serve as vectors for pathogens and is thus expected to affect the transmission of infectious, vector-borne diseases such as malaria. The ability to project and therefore, to mitigate the risk of potential expansion of infectious diseases requires an understanding of how vectors respond to environmental change. Here, we used an extensive dataset on the distribution of the mosquito Anopheles sacharovi, a vector of malaria parasites in Greece, southeast Europe, to build a modeling framework that allowed us to project the potential species range within the next decades. In order to account for model uncertainty, we employed a multi-model approach, combining an ensemble of diverse correlative niche models and a mechanistic model to project the potential expansion of species distribution and to delineate hotspots of potential malaria risk areas. The performance of the models was evaluated using official records on autochthonous malaria incidents. Our projections demonstrated a gradual increase in the potential range of the vector distribution and thus, in the malaria receptive areas over time. Linking the model outputs with human population inhabiting the study region, we found that population at risk increases, relative to the baseline period. The methodological framework proposed and applied here, offers a solid basis for a climate change impact assessment on malaria risk, facilitating informed decision making at national and regional scales.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Scientific Support Centre of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) for providing computational/storage infrastructure and technical support. The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Bertrand Sudre (Bertrand.Sudre@ecdc.europa.eu) and Dr. Massimiliano Rossi (massimiliano.rossi.c@gmail.com) for providing data of historical malaria foci in Greece, and the National Public Health Organization (NPHO) for providing data on malaria occurrence.

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The research was not funded.

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Correspondence to Maria Chara Karypidou.

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Karypidou, M.C., Almpanidou, V., Tompkins, A.M. et al. Projected shifts in the distribution of malaria vectors due to climate change. Climatic Change 163, 2117–2133 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-020-02926-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-020-02926-9

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Malaria
  • Vector-borne diseases
  • Correlative niche models
  • VECTRI