Nonlinear impacts of climatic variability on the density-dependent regulation of an insect vector of disease

Authors

  • Luis F. Chaves,

    Corresponding author
    1. Programa de Investigación en Enfermedades Tropicales, Escuela de Medicina Veterinaria, Universidad Nacional, PO Box 304-3000, Heredia, Costa Rica
    • Graduate School of Environmental Sciences & Global Center of Excellence Program on Integrated Field Environmental Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan
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  • Amy C. Morrison,

    1. Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
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  • Uriel D. Kitron,

    1. Department of Environmental Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
    2. Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
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  • Thomas W. Scott

    1. Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, CA, USA
    2. Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
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Correspondence: Luis Fernando Chaves, tel. + 81 11 706 2267, fax + 81 11 706 4954, e-mail: lchaves@ees.hokudai.ac.jp

Abstract

Aedes aegypti is one of the most common urban tropical mosquito species and an important vector of dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever viruses. It is also an organism with a complex life history where larval stages are aquatic and adults are terrestrial. This ontogenetic niche shift could shape the density-dependent regulation of this and other mosquito species, because events that occur during the larval stages impact adult densities. Herein, we present results from simple density-dependent mathematical models fitted using maximum likelihood methods to weekly time series data from Puerto Rico and Thailand. Density-dependent regulation was strong in both populations. Analysis of climatic forcing indicated that populations were more sensitive to climatic variables with low kurtosis, i.e., climatic factors highly variable around the median, rainfall in Puerto Rico, and temperature in Thailand. Changes in environmental variability appear to drive sharp changes in the abundance of mosquitoes. The identification of density-independent (i.e., exogenous) variables forcing sharp changes in disease vector populations using the exogenous factors statistical properties, such as kurtosis, could be useful to assess the impacts of changing climate patterns on the transmission of vector-borne diseases.

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