Metacommunity ecology links environmental drivers to Culicoides spp. communities and hemorrhagic disease reports in the southeastern United States
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Hemorrhagic disease (HD), one of the most important diseases of white tailed deer (WTD: Odocoileus virginianus) in North America, is vector-borne, and caused by closely related orbiviruses, epizootic hemorrhagic disease viruses (EHDV) and bluetongue viruses (BTV) (family: Reoviridae). In North America, it is generally accepted that a biting midge (Culicoides sonorensis) is the vector for transmission to domestic livestock. However, the role of C. sonorensis in virus transmission to WTD is not well defined and evidence suggests that other Culicoides species may be involved. I identified discrete Culicoides-communities in the southeastern US and environmental covariates potentially contributing to community composition. I also evaluated relationships between environmentally-driven Culicoides-communities and HD reports in the southeastern US and found composition of Culicoides-communities predicted by temperature, precipitation, and elevation. Culicoides spp. not known to vector HD were found to occur in areas of high disease reporting, whereas C. sonorensis was rarely present.