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The Effects Of Urbanization Gradient On Mosquito Distribution In Baltimore, Maryland

Abstract

Mosquitos are insect vectors that transmit pathogens that lead to millions of human deaths every year. Species presence and population abundance is influenced by environmental conditions, such as temperature and precipitation. Human land modifications can also alter habitat conditions, thereby making them more optimal for some mosquito species. Environmental conditions experienced by juvenile mosquitoes can determine the diversity and abundance of adult mosquitoes. We used standardized ovitraps paired with iButton temperature loggers to collect data across five years (2011-2015) to examine how mosquito composition and abundance are influenced by temperature variation along an urbanization gradient in Baltimore, Maryland. Our results focus on the four most commonly observed species, which include two Culex (restuans and pipiens) and two Aedes (albopictus and japonicus) species. All species were highly abundant at sites with both high impervious surface and vegetation cover (urban green sites), while Ae. japonicus and Cx. restuans were also abundant in rural sites, and Ae. albopictus and Cx. pipiens were most abundant in urban sites. Ae. albopictus and Cx. pipiens were positively correlated with impervious surface cover within a 50-meter buffer. All four species were positively affected by temperature, but with dampening association at higher temperatures. Species that bite humans, Ae. albopictus and Cx. pipiens, were more likely to be found in warm, urban areas, which will likely lead to an increase in population sizes of these species due to future growth of urbanization and climate change.

Year of Publication
2020
Secondary Title
Undergraduate Ecology Research Reports
URL https://www.caryinstitute.org/sites/default/files/public/reprints/zettle_2020_reu.pdf
REU Research Report