Potential for spread of the white-nose fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) in the Americas: use of Maxent and NicheA to assure strict model transference

  • Luis E. Escobar | ecoguate2003@gmail.com Facultad de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile; Center for Global Health and Translational Science, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, United States.
  • Andrés Lira-Noriega Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, United States.
  • Gonzalo Medina-Vogel Facultad de Ecología y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Andres Bello, Santiago, Chile.
  • A. Townsend Peterson Biodiversity Institute, University of Kansas, Lawrence, United States.

Abstract

Emerging infectious diseases can present serious threats to wildlife, even to the point of causing extinction. White- nose fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) is causing an epizootic in bats that is expanding rapidly, both geographically and taxonomically. Little is known of the ecology and distributional potential of this intercontinental pathogen. We address this gap via ecological niche models that characterise coarse resolution niche differences between fungus populations on dif- ferent continents, identifying areas potentially vulnerable to infection in South America. Here we explore a novel approach to identifying areas of potential distribution across novel geographic regions that avoids perilious extrapolation into novel environments. European and North American fungus populations show differential use of environmental space, but rather than niche differentiation, we find that changes are best attributed to climatic differences between the two continents. Suitable areas for spread of the pathogen were identified across southern South America; however caution should be taken to avoid underestimating the potential for spread of this pathogen in South America.

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Published
2014-11-01
Section
Original Articles
Keywords:
white nose fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, spatial epidemiology, ecological niche, bats, Maxent, NicheA.
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How to Cite
Escobar, L. E., Lira-Noriega, A., Medina-Vogel, G., & Townsend Peterson, A. (2014). Potential for spread of the white-nose fungus (Pseudogymnoascus destructans) in the Americas: use of Maxent and NicheA to assure strict model transference. Geospatial Health, 9(1), 221-229. https://doi.org/10.4081/gh.2014.19