Modeled response of the West Nile virus vector Culex quinquefasciatus to changing climate using the dynamic mosquito simulation model
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Climate can strongly influence the population dynamics of disease vectors and is consequently a key component of disease ecology. Future climate change and variability may alter the location and seasonality of many disease vectors, possibly increasing the risk of disease transmission to humans. The mosquito species Culex quinquefasciatus is a concern across the southern United States because of its role as a West Nile virus vector and its affinity for urban environments. Using established relationships between atmospheric variables (temperature and precipitation) and mosquito development, we have created the Dynamic Mosquito Simulation Model (DyMSiM) to simulate Cx. quinquefasciatus population dynamics. The model is driven with climate data and validated against mosquito count data from Pasco County, Florida and Coachella Valley, California. Using 1-week and 2-week filters, mosquito trap data are reproduced well by the model (P < 0.0001). Dry environments in southern California produce different mosquito population trends than moist locations in Florida. Florida and California mosquito populations are generally temperature-limited in winter. In California, locations are water-limited through much of the year. Using future climate projection data generated by the National Center for Atmospheric Research CCSM3 general circulation model, we applied temperature and precipitation offsets to the climate data at each location to evaluate mosquito population sensitivity to possible future climate conditions. We found that temperature and precipitation shifts act interdependently to cause remarkable changes in modeled mosquito population dynamics. Impacts include a summer population decline from drying in California due to loss of immature mosquito habitats, and in Florida a decrease in late-season mosquito populations due to drier late summer conditions.
KeywordsMosquito Climate Weather Modeling Disease Vector
This research was supported in part by the NOAA CLIMAS project at the University of Arizona. We are grateful to Elizabeth Willott for discussions on the life-cycle modeling. Special thanks to Seth Britch, Doug Wassmer, Dennis Moore, and Pasco County Mosquito Control who provided mosquito count trap data for Pasco County, Florida, and to Branka Lothrop of the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District for providing mosquito count trap data for Coachella Valley, California.
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