Integrating environmental and neighborhood factors in MaxEnt modeling to predict species distributions: A case study of Aedes albopictus in southeastern Pennsylvania
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Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12613/4610
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Abstract© 2019 Wiese et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Aedes albopictus is a viable vector for several infectious diseases such as Zika, West Nile, Dengue viruses and others. Originating from Asia, this invasive species is rapidly expanding into North American temperate areas and urbanized places causing major concerns for public health. Previous analyses show that warm temperatures and high humidity during the mosquito season are ideal conditions for A. albopictus development, while its distribution is correlated with population density. To better understand A. albopictus expansion into urban places it is important to consider the role of both environmental and neighborhood factors. The present study aims to assess the relative importance of both environmental variables and neighborhood factors in the prediction of A. albopictus’ presence in Southeast Pennsylvania using MaxEnt (version 3.4.1) machine-learning algorithm. Three models are developed that include: (1) exclusively environmental variables, (2) exclusively neighborhood factors, and (3) a combination of environmental variables and neighborhood factors. Outcomes from the three models are compared in terms of variable importance, accuracy, and the spatial distribution of predicted A. albopictus’ presence. All three models predicted the presence of A. albopictus in urban centers, however, each to a different spatial extent. The combined model resulted in the highest accuracy (74.7%) compared to the model with only environmental variables (73.5%) and to the model with only neighborhood factors (72.1%) separately. Although the combined model does not essentially increase the accuracy in the prediction, the spatial patterns of mosquito distribution are different when compared to environmental or neighborhood factors alone. Environmental variables help to explain conditions associated with mosquitoes in suburban/rural areas, while neighborhood factors summarize the local conditions that can also impact mosquito habitats in predominantly urban places. Overall, the present study shows that MaxEnt is suitable for integrating neighborhood factors associated with mosquito presence that can complement and improve species distribution modeling.
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