Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development

Ecological Niche Modeling: A tool set to assess distributional patterns in biodiversity and pathogens

Jane Costa

Ecologic niche modeling (ENM) is a growing field with many potential applications to questions regarding the geography and ecology of disease transmission. Specifically, ENM has the potential to inform investigations concerned with the geography, or potential geography, of vectors, hosts, pathogens, or human cases, and it can achieve fine spatial resolution without the loss of information inherent in many other techniques.

Ecologic niches and potential geographic distributions are modeled with the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Prediction (GARP) a complex computer application that provides a broader, more objective approach than traditional Geographic Information System (GIS)-based approaches but which yields GIS coverages as output. In general, the procedure focuses on modeling ecologic niches. Specifically, GARP relates ecologic characteristics of known occurrence points to those of points randomly sampled from the rest of the study region and develops a series of decision rules that summarizes those factors associated with the species' presence.

In this presentation, the most relevant application on ENM will be discussed: understanding ecology diseases; characterizing distributional areas; identifying areas of potential invasion in other areas; anticipating risky areas with changing climates; identifying unknown vectors or hosts; we also discuss in this presentation the use of this tool to assess collections data set . Note: This presentation is based in the article written by Peterson AT. Ecologic niche modeling and spatial patterns of disease transmission. Emerg. Infect. Dis. [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Dec [date cited]. Available from

  • The Global Alliance for Enhancing Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries, of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, UN G@ID
  • U.S. National Committee for CODATA
  • Brazilian National Committee for CODATA.
  • CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries