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Publication Date

August 2012


Success of the cattle industry in Latin America is impeded by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, through decreases in milk production and mass gain and increased risk of secondary infection and rabies. We used ecological niche modeling to predict the current potential distribution of D. rotundus and the future distribution of the species for the years 2030, 2050, and 2080 based on the A2, A1B, and B1 climate scenarios from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We then combined the present day potential distribution with cattle density estimates to identify areas where cattle are at higher risk for the negative impacts due to D. rotundus. We evaluated our risk prediction by plotting 17 documented outbreaks of cattle rabies. Our results indicated highly suitable habitat for D. rotundus occurs throughout most of Mexico and Central America as well as portions of Venezuela, Guyana, the Brazilian highlands, western Ecuador, northern Argentina, and east of the Andes in Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay. With future climate projections suitable habitat for D. rotundus is predicted in these same areas and additional areas in French Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela and Columbia; however D. rotundus are not likely to expand into the U.S. because of inadequate ‘temperature seasonality.’ Areas with large portions of cattle at risk include Mexico, Central America, Paraguay, and Brazil. Twelve of 17 documented cattle rabies outbreaks were represented in regions predicted at risk. Our present day and future predictions can help authorities focus rabies prevention efforts and inform cattle ranchers which areas are at an increased risk of cattle rabies because it has suitable habitat for D. rotundus.


Cattle, Livestock, Rabies, Bats, Climate Change, Mexico, Brazil, Ecological Niches

Document Type



Plos One, Vol. 7, no. 8 (2012-08-10).





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