Summer Research Fellowship Programme of India's Science Academies

Disease Biogeography: Predicting the distribution of vector borne diseases using Ecological Niche Modelling approach

Ms. Shubhankhi Das Gupta

Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, West Bengal 721302

Dr. N.A. Aravind Madhyastha

Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology & Environment, Royal Enclave, Sriramapura, Jakkur Post, Bangalore Karnataka 560064


Vector borne diseases are prominent in the tropics where conditions favour pathogen survival. They have tremendous impact on humans, animals, economic conditions of the nation and can occur consistently in time and space across tropical regions but research on these diseases and vectors is limited. On the other hand, the environmental conditions do favour the spread of the diseases, which remain as a gap. Therefore, we explored the potential distribution of diseases that are most prominent in India such as cholera, chikungunya, malaria and dengue under current and future climate scenario along with related vectors using ecological niche model. We predicted potential distribution of these diseases and vectors to support effective control in place. The predictions were done by utilising the disease incidence data and suite of environmental variables. In this study, we found that current and future environmental conditions in almost all of India do favour disease spread. We have also assessed the importance of various variables responsible for the spread of disease using well known Jackknife analysis.

Keywords: species distribution modelling, maximum entropy, zoonotic diseases, disease forecast, risk analysis

Written, reviewed, revised, proofed and published with