Determinants of the population growth of the West Nile virus mosquito vector Culex pipiens in a repeatedly affected area in Italy

Mulatti, P., Ferguson, H.M., Bonfanti, L., Montarsi, F., Capelli, G. and Marangon, S. (2014) Determinants of the population growth of the West Nile virus mosquito vector Culex pipiens in a repeatedly affected area in Italy. Parasites and Vectors, 7(26), (doi:10.1186/1756-3305-7-26)

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Abstract

Background The recent spread of West Nile Virus in temperate countries has raised concern. Predicting the likelihood of transmission is crucial to ascertain the threat to Public and Veterinary Health. However, accurate models of West Nile Virus (WNV) expansion in Europe may be hampered by limited understanding of the population dynamics of their primary mosquito vectors and their response to environmental changes.

Methods We used data collected in north-eastern Italy (2009–2011) to analyze the determinants of the population growth rate of the primary WNV vector Culex pipiens. A series of alternative growth models were fitted to longitudinal data on mosquito abundance to evaluate the strength of evidence for regulation by intrinsic density-dependent and/or extrinsic environmental factors. Model-averaging algorithms were then used to estimate the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic variables in describing the variations of per-capita growth rates.

Results Results indicate a much greater contribution of density-dependence in regulating vector population growth rates than of any environmental factor on its own. Analysis of an average model of Cx. pipiens growth revealed that the most significant predictors of their population dynamics was the length of daylight, estimated population size and temperature conditions in the 15 day period prior to sampling. Other extrinsic variables (including measures of precipitation, number of rainy days, and humidity) had only a minor influence on Cx. pipiens growth rates.

Conclusions These results indicate the need to incorporate density dependence in combination with key environmental factors for robust prediction of Cx. pipiens population expansion and WNV transmission risk. We hypothesize that detailed analysis of the determinants of mosquito vector growth rate as conducted here can help identify when and where an increase in vector population size and associated WNV transmission risk should be expected.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ferguson, Dr Heather
Authors: Mulatti, P., Ferguson, H.M., Bonfanti, L., Montarsi, F., Capelli, G., and Marangon, S.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Parasites and Vectors
ISSN:1756-3305
ISSN (Online):1756-3305
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Parasites and Vectors 7:26
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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