Integr Zool. 2023 Oct 22. doi: 10.1111/1749-4877.12776. Online ahead of print.
There is currently limited information regarding the levels of infection and distribution of sarcoptic mange in the wombat population throughout Australia. We analyzed cases of sarcoptic mange in bare-nosed wombats reported into WomSAT, a website and mobile phone application where citizen scientists can upload sightings of wombats, burrows, and sarcoptic mange status. We used Maxent software to predict locations and the environmental factors associated with sarcoptic mange occurrence in bare-nosed wombats. A total of 1379 sarcoptic mange-infected and 3043 non-sarcoptic mange-infected wombats were reported by 674 and 841 citizen scientists, respectively. Of all the wombats reported to WomSAT from 2015 to 2019, 31.2% were infected with sarcoptic mange. Sarcoptic mange in bare-nosed wombats was reported in 502 suburbs across four states. New South Wales had the highest number of sarcoptic mange cases reported to WomSAT. There was no statistically significant seasonal variation of sarcoptic mange levels in bare-nosed wombats. The model showed that Euclidean distance to urban areas was the highest contributing factor for sarcoptic mange occurrence. As distance to urban areas decreased, the suitability for sarcoptic mange increased. Annual precipitation was the next contributing factor in the model, with higher rainfall of 400-700 mm correlating to an increase in sarcoptic mange occurrence. As the data collected to date have provided the largest-scale contemporary distribution of sarcoptic mange in wombats, data should continue to be collected by citizen scientists as it is an easy and low-cost method of collecting data over large areas. We suggest targeting the identified hotspot areas and more site-specific studies for studying and mitigating sarcoptic mange in bare-nosed wombats.