Ecological factors associated with the narrow coastal distribution of Anopheles farauti Laveran s.s. were investigated using decision tree software and a recently developed software tool that permits analysis of environmental gradients across distributional boundaries. Significant variables identified by these procedures were then used to develop ecological niche models that permitted detailed—and improved—predictions of the species’ overall distribution. These methods identified seven climatic factors (four of temperature factors and three atmospheric moisture factors) from among 40 environmental variables related to the range of this species. In addition, the gradient-analysis tool identified elevation as being particularly important. The distributional hypothesis predicted using ecological niche modeling of these factors included all of the record sites from which An. farauti s.s. was collected in northern Australia and successfully reconstructed its narrow limitation to coastal areas. Omission of elevation from analyses resulted in unrealistic predictions of potential distributional areas >100 km inland, where the species has not been found.
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Vol. 43 • No. 5