Bats as likely Ebolavirus reservoir hosts

Habitat suitability modelling of nine Ebolavirus-associated bat species fully encompasses all known disease outbreaks and provides further support to bats as prime reservoir candidates

Hypsignathus monstrosus
Putative Ebolavirus reservoir: Hypsignathus monstrosus observed in DR Congo by Dérozier Violette (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is caused by infections with species of the genus Ebolavirus with Zaire Ebolavirus (ZEBOV) being one of the deadliest. While the transmission cycle of ZEBOV is largely unknown, studies have pointed to bats as potential reservoirs.

This study uses GBIF-mediated occurrences to model the ecological niches of nine bat species that have tested positive for either virus RNA (three spp.) or antibodies against the virus (six spp.).

Using the maximum entropy approach, the authors derived the potential distributions of the nine bats based on climatic conditions and landcover at the sites of occurrences.

The resulting habitat suitability maps aligned well with IUCN range maps and predicted distribution in a broad transect across most of Central Africa.

Binary modelling results of the three RNA-positive species alone covered nearly all known spillover events and outbreak sites, adding evidence to the importance of these particular species—Epomops franqueti, Hypsignathus monstrosus and Myonycteris torquata—as ZEBOV reservoirs.

Koch LK, Cunze S, Kochmann J and Klimpel S (2020) Bats as putative Zaire ebolavirus reservoir hosts and their habitat suitability in Africa. Scientific Reports. Springer Science and Business Media LLC 10(1). Available at:

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