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Predicting potential global and future distributions of the African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) using Species Distribution Models

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
  • Irene Gomez
  • Francis Musavi
  • Wilfred L. Mushobozi
  • Grace David
  • Roger Day
  • Regan Early
  • Kenneth Wilson
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>28/09/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Scientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date28/09/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Invasive species have historically been a problem derived from global trade and transport. To aid in the control and management of these species, Species Distribution Models (SDMs) have been used to help predict possible areas of expansion. Our focal organism, the African Armyworm (AAW), has historically been known as an important pest species in Africa, occurring at high larval densities and causing outbreaks that can cause enormous economic damage to staple crops. The goal of this study is to map the AAW’s present and potential distribution in three future scenarios for the region, and the potential global distribution if the species were to invade other territories, using 40 years of data on more than 700 larval outbreak reports from Kenya and Tanzania. The present distribution in East Africa coincides with its previously known distribution, as well as other areas of grassland and cropland, which are the host plants for this species. The different future climatic scenarios show broadly similar potential distributions in East Africa to the present day. The predicted global distribution shows areas where the AAW has already been reported, but also shows many potential areas in the Americas where, if transported, environmental conditions are suitable for AAW to thrive and where it could become an invasive species.