H. Van Dyck
- Towards a resource-based habitat approach for spatial modelling of vector-borne disease risks
- Biological Reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 90 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Given the veterinary and public health impact of vector-borne diseases, there is a clear need to assess the suitability of landscapes for the emergence and spread of these diseases. Current approaches for predicting disease risks neglect key features of the landscape as components of the functional habitat of vectors or hosts, and hence of the pathogen. Empirical-statistical methods do not explicitly incorporate biological mechanisms, whereas current mechanistic models are rarely spatially explicit; both methods ignore the way animals use the landscape (i.e. movement ecology). We argue that applying a functional concept for habitat, i.e. the resource-based habitat concept (RBHC), can solve these issues. The RBHC offers a framework to identify systematically the different ecological resources that are necessary for the completion of the transmission cycle and to relate these resources to (combinations of) landscape features and other environmental factors. The potential of the RBHC as a framework for identifying suitable habitats for vector-borne pathogens is explored and illustrated with the case of bluetongue virus, a midge-transmitted virus affecting ruminants. The concept facilitates the study of functional habitats of the interacting species (vectors as well as hosts) and provides new insight into spatial and temporal variation in transmission opportunities and exposure that ultimately determine disease risks. It may help to identify knowledge gaps and control options arising from changes in the spatial configuration of key resources across the landscape. The RBHC framework may act as a bridge between existing mechanistic and statistical modelling approaches.
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