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Keywords:

  • Mosquito;
  • ecological niche models;
  • malaria;
  • phylogenetics;
  • SEEVA;
  • Albitarsis Group

ABSTRACT

The Anopheles albitarsis group of mosquitoes comprises eight recognized species and one mitochondrial lineage. Our knowledge of malaria vectorial importance and the distribution and evolution of these taxa is incomplete. We constructed ecological niche models (ENMs) for these taxa and used hypothesized phylogenetic relationships and ENMs to investigate environmental and ecological divergence associated with speciation events. Two major clades were identified, one north (Clade 1) and one south (Clade 2) of the Amazon River that likely is or was a barrier to mosquito movement. Clade 1 species occur more often in higher average temperature locations than Clade 2 species, and taxon splits within Clade 1 corresponded with a greater divergence of variables related to precipitation than was the case within Clade 2. Comparison of the ecological profiles of sympatric species and sister species support the idea that phylogenetic proximity is related to ecological similarity. Anopheles albitarsis I, An. janconnae, and An. marajoara ENMs had the highest percentage of their predicted suitable habitat overlapping distribution models of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax, and warrant additional studies of the transmission potential of these species. Phylogenetic proximity may be related to malaria vectorial importance within the Albitarsis Group.