Identifying biotic interactions which drive the spatial distribution of a mosquito community

Golding, Nick; Nunn, Miles A.; Purse, Bethan V.. 2015 Identifying biotic interactions which drive the spatial distribution of a mosquito community. Parasites & Vectors, 8, 367. 10, pp.

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Background: Spatial variation in the risk of many mosquito-borne pathogens is strongly influenced by the distribution of communities of suitable vector mosquitoes. The spatial distributions of such communities have been linked to the abiotic habitat requirements of each constituent mosquito species, but the biotic interactions between mosquitoes and other species are less well understood. Determining which fauna restrict the presence and abundance of key mosquito species in vector communities may identify species which could be employed as natural biological control agents. Whilst biotic interactions have been studied in the laboratory, a lack of appropriate statistical methods has prohibited the identification of key interactions which influence mosquito distributions in the field. Joint species distribution models (JSDMs) have recently been developed to identify biotic interactions influencing the distributions of species from empirical data. Methods: We apply a JSDM to field data on the spatial distribution of mosquitoes in a UK wetland to identify both abiotic factors and biotic interactions driving the composition of the community. Results: As expected, mosquito larval distributions in this wetland habitat are strongly driven by environmental covariates including water depth, temperature and oxidation-reduction potential. By factoring out these environmental variables, we are able to identify species (ditch shrimp of the genus Palaemonetes and fish) as predators which appear to restrict mosquito distributions. Conclusions: JSDMs offer vector ecologists a way to identify potentially important biotic interactions influencing the distributions of disease vectors from widely available field data. This information is crucial to understand the likely effects of habitat management for vector control and to identify species with the potential for use in biological control programmes. We provide an R package BayesComm to enable the wider application of these models.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 1756-3305
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link
Additional Keywords: mosquito, ecology, species distribution modelling, ecological interactions
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 20 Jul 2015 12:56 +0 (UTC)

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