Ensemble ecological niche modeling of West Nile virus probability in Florida

Sean P. Beeman, Andrea M. Morrison, Thomas R. Unnasch*, Robert S. Unnasch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Ecological Niche Modeling is a process by which spatiotemporal, climatic, and environmental data are analyzed to predict the distribution of an organism. Using this process, an ensemble ecological niche model for West Nile virus habitat prediction in the state of Florida was developed. This model was created through the weighted averaging of three separate machine learning models—boosted regression tree, random forest, and maximum entropy—developed for this study using sentinel chicken surveillance and remote sensing data. Variable importance differed among the models. The highest variable permutation value included mean dewpoint temperature for the boosted regression tree model, mean temperature for the random forest model, and wetlands focal statistics for the maximum entropy mode. Model validation resulted in area under the receiver curve predictive values ranging from good [0.8728 (95% CI 0.8422–0.8986)] for the maximum entropy model to excellent [0.9996 (95% CI 0.9988–1.0000)] for random forest model, with the ensemble model predictive value also in the excellent range [0.9939 (95% CI 0.9800–0.9979]. This model should allow mosquito control districts to optimize West Nile virus surveillance, improving detection and allowing for a faster, targeted response to reduce West Nile virus transmission potential.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0256868
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10 October
StatePublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Ensemble ecological niche modeling of West Nile virus probability in Florida'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this