Vegetation structure drives mosquito community composition in UK’s largest managed lowland wetland

Smith, Daniel C.; Schafer, Stefanie M.; Golding, Nick; Nunn, Miles A.; White, Steven M. ORCID:; Callaghan, Amanda; Purse, Bethan V. ORCID: 2024 Vegetation structure drives mosquito community composition in UK’s largest managed lowland wetland. Parasites & Vectors, 17, 201. 15, pp.

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•Purpose: The rising burden of mosquito-borne diseases in Europe extends beyond urban areas, encompassing rural and semi-urban regions near managed and natural wetlands evidenced by recent outbreaks of Usutu and West Nile viruses. While wetland management policies focus on biodiversity and ecosystem services, few studies explore the impact on mosquito vectors. •Methods: Our research addresses this gap, examining juvenile mosquito and aquatic predator communities in 67 ditch sites within a South England coastal marsh subjected to different wetland management tiers. Using joint distribution models, we analyse how mosquito communities respond to abiotic and biotic factors influenced by wetland management. •Results: Of the 12 mosquito species identified, Culiseta annulata (Usutu virus vector) and Culex pipiens (Usutu and West Nile virus vector) constitute 47% of 6825 larval mosquitoes. Abundant predators include Coleoptera (water beetles) adults, Corixidae (water boatmen) and Zygoptera (Damselfy) larvae. Models reveal that tier 3 management sites (higher winter water levels, lower agricultural intensity) associated with shade and less floating vegetation are preferred by specific mosquito species. All mosquito species except Anopheles maculipennis s.l., are negatively impacted by potential predators. Culiseta annulata shows positive associations with shaded and turbid water, contrary to preferences of Corixidae predators. •Conclusions: Tier 3 areas managed for biodiversity, characterised by higher seasonal water levels and reduced livestock grazing intensity, provide favourable habitats for key mosquito species that are known vectors of arboviruses, such as Usutu and West Nile. Our findings emphasise the impact of biodiversity-focused wetland management, altering mosquito breeding site vegetation to enhance vector suitability. Further exploration of these trade-offs is crucial for comprehending the broader implications of wetland management.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
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, wetlands, management, disease, community ecology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 10 May 2024 13:41 +0 (UTC)

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