The current and future distribution of the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) on Madeira Island

José Maurício Santos, César Capinha, Jorge Rocha, Carla Alexandra Sousa

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The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main vector for several diseases of global importance, such as dengue and yellow fever. This species was first identified on Madeira Island in 2005, and between 2012 and 2013 was responsible for an outbreak of dengue that affected several thousand people. However, the potential distribution of the species on the island remains poorly investigated. Here we assess the suitability of current and future climatic conditions to the species on the island and complement this assessment with estimates of the suitability of land use and human settlement conditions. We used four modelling algorithms (boosted regression trees, generalized additive models, generalized linear models and random forest) and data on the distribution of the species worldwide and across the island. For both climatic and non-climatic factors, suitability estimates predicted the current distribution of the species with good accuracy (mean area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve = 0.88 ±0.06, mean true skill statistic = 0.72 ±0.1). Minimum temperature of coldest month was the most influential climatic predictor, while human population density, residential housing density and public spaces were the most influential predictors describing land use and human settlement conditions. Suitable areas under current climates are predicted to occur mainly in the warmer and densely inhabited coastal areas of the southern part of the island, where the species is already established. By mid-century (2041– 2060), the extent of climatically suitable areas is expected to increase, mainly towards higher altitudes and in the eastern part of the island. Our work shows that ongoing efforts to monitor and prevent the spread of Ae. aegypti on Madeira Island will have to increasingly consider the effects of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0010715
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Yellow fever
  • Aedes aegypti
  • Madeira Island
  • Dengue


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