Climate change and the genus Rhipicephalus (Acari : Ixodidae) in Africa
van Jaarsveld, AS
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The suitability of present and future climates for 30 Rhipicephalus species in Africa are predicted using a simple climate envelope model as well as a Division of Atmospheric Research Limited-Area Model (DARLAM). DARLAM's predictions are compared with the mean outcome from two global circulation models. East Africa and South Africa are considered the most vulnerable regions on the continent to climate-induced changes in tick distributions and tick-borne diseases. More than 50% of the species examined show potential range expansion and more than 70% of this range expansion is found in economically important tick species. More than 20% of the species experienced range shifts of between 50 and 100%. There is also an increase in tick species richness in the south-western regions of the sub-continent. Actual range alterations due to climate change may be even greater since factors like land degradation and human population increase have not been included in this modelling process. However, these predictions are also subject to the effect that climate change may have on the hosts of the ticks, particularly those that favour a restricted range of hosts. Where possible, the anticipated biological implications of the predicted changes are explored.