The greater U.S. Midwest is on the leading edge of tick and tick-borne disease (TBD) expansion, with tick and TBD encroachment into Illinois occurring from both the northern and the southern regions. To assess the historical and future habitat suitability of four ticks of medical concern within the state, we fit individual and mean-weighted ensemble species distribution models for Ixodes scapularis, Amblyomma americanum, Dermacentor variabilis, and a newly invading species, Amblyomma maculatum using a variety of landscape and mean climate variables for the periods of 1970–2000, 2041–2060, and 2061–2080. Ensemble model projections for the historical climate were consistent with known distributions of each species but predicted the habitat suitability of A. maculatum to be much greater throughout Illinois than what known distributions demonstrate. The presence of forests and wetlands were the most important landcover classes predicting the occurrence of all tick species. As the climate warmed, the expected distribution of all species became strongly responsive to precipitation and temperature variables, particularly precipitation of the warmest quarter and mean diurnal range, as well as proximity to forest cover and water sources. The suitable habitat for I. scapularis, A. americanum, and A. maculatum was predicted to significantly narrow in the 2050 climate scenario and then increase more broadly statewide in the 2070 scenario but at reduced likelihoods. Predicting where ticks may invade and concentrate as the climate changes will be important to anticipate, prevent, and treat TBD in Illinois.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number213
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • ticks
  • species distribution models
  • habitat suitability models
  • Illinois
  • climate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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