What makes the Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus japonicus feel comfortable in Germany? A fuzzy modelling approach.
BACKGROUND:The Asian bush mosquito Aedes japonicus japonicus is an invasive species native to East Asia and has become established in North America and Europe. On both continents, the species has spread over wide areas. Since it is a potential vector of human and livestock pathogens, distribution and dissemination maps are urgently needed to implement targeted surveillance and control in case of disease outbreaks. Previous distribution models for Europe and Germany in particular focused on climate data. Until now, effects of other environmental variables such as land use and wind remained unconsidered. RESULTS:In order to better explain the distribution pattern of Ae. j. japonicus in Germany at a regional level, we have developed a nested approach that allows for the combination of data derived from (i) a climate model based on a machine-learning approach; (ii) a landscape model developed by means of ecological expert knowledge; and (iii) wind speed data. The approach is based on the fuzzy modelling technique that enables to precisely define the interactions between the three factors and additionally considers uncertainties with regard to the acceptance of certain environmental conditions. The model combines different spatial resolutions of data for Germany and achieves a much higher degree of accuracy than previous published distribution models. Our results reveal that a well-suited landscape structure can even facilitate the occurrence of Ae. j. japonicus in a climatically unsuitable region. Vice versa, unsuitable land use types such as agricultural landscapes and coniferous forests reduce the occurrence probability in climatically suitable regions. CONCLUSIONS:The approach has significantly improved existing distribution models of Ae. j. japonicus for the area of Germany. We generated distribution maps with a resolution of 100 × 100 m that can serve as a basis for the design of control measures. All model input data and scripts are open source and freely available, so that the model can easily be applied to other countries or, more generally, to other species.