High Resolution Niche Models of Malaria Vectors in Northern Tanzania: A New Capacity to Predict Malaria Risk?

Title: High Resolution Niche Models of Malaria Vectors in Northern Tanzania: A New Capacity to Predict Malaria Risk?
Authors: Kulkarni, Manisha A.
Desrochers, Rachelle E.
Kerr, Jeremy T.
Date: 2010
Abstract: Background: Malaria transmission rates in Africa can vary dramatically over the space of a few kilometres. This spatial heterogeneity reflects variation in vector mosquito habitat and presents an important obstacle to the efficient allocation of malaria control resources. Malaria control is further complicated by combinations of vector species that respond differently to control interventions. Recent modelling innovations make it possible to predict vector distributions and extrapolate malaria risk continentally, but these risk mapping efforts have not yet bridged the spatial gap to guide on-the-ground control efforts. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used Maximum Entropy with purpose-built, high resolution land cover data and other environmental factors to model the spatial distributions of the three dominant malaria vector species in a 94,000 km2 region of east Africa. Remotely sensed land cover was necessary in each vector’s niche model. Seasonality of precipitation and maximum annual temperature also contributed to niche models for Anopheles arabiensis and An. funestus s.l. (AUC 0.989 and 0.991, respectively), but cold season precipitation and elevation were important for An. gambiae s.s. (AUC 0.997). Although these niche models appear highly accurate, the critical test is whether they improve predictions of malaria prevalence in human populations. Vector habitat within 1.5 km of community-based malaria prevalence measurements interacts with elevation to substantially improve predictions of Plasmodium falciparum prevalence in children. The inclusion of the mechanistic link between malaria prevalence and vector habitat greatly improves the precision and accuracy of prevalence predictions (r2 = 0.83 including vector habitat, or r2 = 0.50 without vector habitat). Predictions including vector habitat are unbiased (observations vs. model predictions of prevalence: slope = 1.02). Using this model, we generate a high resolution map of predicted malaria prevalence throughout the study region. Conclusions/Significance: The interaction between mosquito niche space and microclimate along elevational gradients indicates worrisome potential for climate and land use changes to exacerbate malaria resurgence in the east African highlands. Nevertheless, it is possible to direct interventions precisely to ameliorate potential impacts.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/23929
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009396
CollectionBiologie // Biology
Libre accès uOttawa - Publications // uOttawa Open Access - Publications