Original Research

Spatial distribution and habitat selection of culicoides imicola: The potential vector of bluetongue virus in Tunisia

Ben H. Thameur, Sghaier Soufiène, Heni Haj Ammar, Salah Hammami
Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research | Vol 88, No 1 | a1861 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ojvr.v88i1.1861 | © 2021 Ben H. Thameur, Sghaier Soufiène, Heni Haj Ammar, Salah Hammami | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 March 2020 | Published: 16 August 2021

About the author(s)

Ben H. Thameur, Ministry of Agriculture of Tunisia, General Directorate of Veterinary Services, CRDA Nabeul, Tunisia
Sghaier Soufiène, Tunisian Veterinary Research Institute, R Djebel El Akhdhar Errabta, Tunisia
Heni Haj Ammar, Ministry of Agriculture of Tunisia, General Directorate of Veterinary Services, Rue Alain Savary, Tunisia
Salah Hammami, Ecole Nationale de Médecine Vétérinaire de Sidi Thabet, IRESA, University of Manouba, Sidi Thabet, Tunisia


The increasing threat of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) represents a great challenge to those who manage public and animal health. Determining the spatial distribution of arthropod vector species is an essential step in studying the risk of transmission of a vector-borne pathogen (VBP) and in estimating risk levels of VBD. Risk maps allow better targeting surveillance and help in designing control measures. We aimed to study the geographical distribution of Culicoides imicola, the main competent vector of Bluetongue virus (BTV) in sheep in Tunisia. Fifty-three records covering the whole distribution range of C.imicola in Tunisia were obtained during a 2-year field entomological survey (August 2017 – January 2018 and August 2018 – January 2019). The ecological niche of C. imicola is described using ecological-niche factor analysis (ENFA) and Mahalanobis distances factor analysis (MADIFA). An environmental suitability map (ESM) was developed by MaxEnt software to map the optimal habitat under the current climate background. The MaxEnt model was highly accurate with a statistically significant area under curve (AUC) value of 0.941. The location of the potential distribution of C. imicola is predicted in specified regions of Tunisia. Our findings can be applied in various ways such as surveillance and control program of BTV in Tunisia.


Tunisia; bluetongue virus; C. imicola; ENFA; ecological-niche factor analysis; MADIFA; Mahalanobis distances factor analysis; ecological niche model; maxEnt


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