Epidemic Modeling

Tick maps on the virtual globe

Digital maps

This website presents a tick atlas on the virtual globe Google Earth, which is currently still under development. A first kmz file for visualization of Dermacentor reticulatus maps can already be downloaded.

Dermacentor_reticulatus.kmz


Screenshot of the Google Earth based tick atlas. The first maps were developed for the tick species Dermacentor reticulatus.

Abstract

Digital maps, particularly displayed on virtual globes, will represent the most important geographic source of knowledge in the future. The best known of these virtual globes is Google Earth, whose use in teaching at schools and universities is now common practice. As the first result of a series of forthcoming digital tick maps, the worldwide distribution of the marsh tick Dermacentor reticulatus is shown on Google Earth. For this purpose, various distribution maps of D. reticulatus were compiled, including digitized expert maps and a map of suitable habitats compiled with a species distribution model (SDM). A random forest model that estimates suitable habitats by combining information from tick observations, bioclimatic variables, altitude, and land cover was chosen for the latter. In the Google Earth application, the following maps can be selected: a historical expert map, a current expert map, a SMD predicted habitat suitability map, a combined expert-habitat suitability map (considered to be the best representation of the current distribution of D. reticulatus), and a map of rasterized tick locations. The user can overlay these maps according to his own requirements or combine it with other Google Earth content. For example, a comparison of the historical with the current expert map shows the spread of D. reticulatus over the past few decades. Additionally, high-resolution city maps of Bilbao (Spain), Grenoble (France), Berlin (Germany), Wrocclaw (Poland), Budapest (Hungary), Bucharest (Romania), and Tomsk (Russia) demonstrate the urban distribution of D. reticulatus in public parks, fallow land, and recreational areas. The Google Earth application, developed using the Keyhole Markup Language (KML), also contains fact sheets on biology, ecology, seasonal activity, and vector competence of D. reticulatus. This information has been prepared in a compact and easily understandable way for the target group, i.e. scientists from various disciplines, students, and lay people interested in the geographical distribution of ticks.

References

Brugger, K., and F. Rubel, 2022: Tick maps on the virtual globe: First results using the example of Dermacentor reticulatus. Ticks Tick Borne Dis., submitted.