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Hoarding rainwater could 'dramatically' expand range of dengue-fever mosquito
Date:1/27/2009

he world affected by dengue and other mosquito-spread diseases. According to Dr Scott Ritchie, a mosquito control expert and contributing author: "The better we understand the underlying processes, the better we will be able to manage disease risk into the future. Our results highlight that dengue-vectoring mosquitoes can spread to areas where they are currently not found once suitable breeding sites, such as containers, become available. Our research can help target water hygiene education campaigns to areas most at risk of dengue mosquito establishment."

The predictions come from a new "bottom-up" model that takes into account the mosquito's biology and its physiological limitations, such as the ability of its eggs to tolerate drying out.

To construct the model, Kearney and his colleagues needed to predict the microclimates mosquitoes experience. "Like all mosquitoes, the dengue mosquito has an aquatic larval phase and it is very particular about breeding in artificial containers like water tanks, buckets and old tyres. So we developed a model of the temperature and depth of water in different containers as a function of climate. We modelled two extreme types of container a large (3600 litre) water tank receiving rainwater from a roof catchment, and a small (20 litre) bucket only receiving rainwater from directly above. We considered each container type in high and low shade," Kearney says.

The authors also took evolution into account the first time this has been done in such models. According to Professor Ary Hoffmann, a coauthor of the study: "Evolution happens all the time in nature and can be very rapid, taking only a few generations to influence the fitness of populations. Our results show that evolution can make a very large difference when predicting changes in species ranges under climate change."


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Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-079-498-04317
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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