, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 313-322
Date: 19 Oct 2005

Increased Larval Mosquito Densities from Modified Landuses in the Kapiti Region, New Zealand: Vegetation, Water Quality, and Predators as Associated Environmental Factors

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Landuse changes, including deforestation, agriculture, and urbanization, have coincided with an increase in vector-borne diseases worldwide. Landuse changes may alter mosquito populations by modifying the characteristics of aquatic larval habitats, but we still poorly understand the physical, chemical, and biological factors involved. We examined a total of 81 mosquito larval habitats for immature mosquitoes and 17 environmental variables in native forest, pastureland, and urbanland, at three locations in the Kapiti region, New Zealand. Significantly higher immature mosquito densities, predominantly of the endemic species Cx. pervigilans, were collected from urbanland and pastureland compared to native forest. Urbanland and pastureland habitats were mostly artificial containers compared to ground pools in native forest. Generalized linear modeling (GLM) revealed nine environmental variables that were significantly different between landuses. Of these variables, mosquito density was significantly (positively) correlated with bacteria and dissolved organic carbon. When location and date were controlled for in GLM, mosquito density was (negatively) related to the presence of vegetation and combined predators. The findings of this study support those from prior surveys in warmer climates suggesting greater mosquito-borne disease risk in anthropogenically-modified environments because of ecosystem disruption. Unlike most previous field-based work, this study suggests that in addition to habitat type, the presence of vegetation, water quality, and predators are also associated with mosquito density and may be involved in causal mechanisms. Urban containers and stock drinking troughs had high mosquito densities, suggesting that an initial step in directing control operations should be to focus on these habitats.