Models predicting current habitat availability for four prominent tick species in Africa (Boophilus
decoloratus, Amblyomma hebraeum, Rhipicephalus appendiculatus and Hyalomma truncatum)
were constructed using remotely sensed information about abiotic variables and a point-to-point similarity
metric. Year-to-year variations in the forecasted habitat suitability over the period 1983-2000 show a clear decrease in habitat availability, which is attributed primarily to increasing temperature in the region over this period. Climate variables were projected to the year 2015 using Fourier series analysis of the decadal abiotic data. The simulations show a trend toward the destruction of the habitats of the four tick species. In addition, a sensitivity analysis was developed to probe the changes in the habitat suitability in response to variations in temperature, vegetation availability and water vapour deficit. Four basic scenarios were studied: increasing or decreasing the temperature 1 or 2°C together with correlated variations in the other abiotic variables. A decrease in temperature was predicted to promote habitat gain for every species except H truncatum, while an increase of 1°C was forecast to sustain a small but positive response in A. hebraeum and B. decoloratus. Increasing the temperature by 2 °C was forecast to have damaging effects on the habitat structure of all four species. The effect of climate warming on the habitat range of these ticks is considered in the light of economically sound control measures over an ecological background.
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