Water-filled containers harbor a community of specialist mosquitoes, with several species, including Aedes albopictus, A. triseriatus, and Culex quinquefasciatus, acting as vectors of important human diseases. Populations of mosquitoes found in these human-associated habitats are the result of two separate but related processes: female oviposition and larval survival. Species vary in morphological, physiological, and ecological traits related to these processes, including variation in behavior and tolerances to environmental factors. These traits can be acted upon by environmental filters that may reduce individuals or species by selecting against particular traits of those species. How traits associated with these separate interrelated processes are affected by environmental filters and thus shape the abundance and prevalence of mosquitoes is an underexplored area of research. Further, understanding the ecology of container mosquitoes, including invasive species (e.g., Aedes albopictus and Culex coronator), is a valuable tool for designing and implementing effective vector control and public health strategies. To understand how environmental filters affect mosquito populations and species via effects on oviposition and survival in containers, and what consequences such effects may have for current and future populations, I propose three specific aims.
In specific aim 1 we will determine the role of environmental factors in explaining patterns of container mosquitoes across spatial scales and seasons. We will sample natural containers to test the hypothesis that local and regional spatial and temporal variation in environmental factors are a principal determinant of patterns of container mosquitoes, especially with regards to the four target species of Aedes and Culex.
Specific aim 2 will focus on traits of container species. We will use laboratory experiments to assess behavioral and tolerance traits of larvae of target species. Field experiments will be conducted to examine traits related to oviposition. To further understand how environmental factors may affect mosquitoes, we will perform multigenerational studies that will allow populations of target species to experience single environmental factors across all life stages (eggs, larvae, adults).
This aim will allow us to test the hypothesis that environmental filters differentially affect Aedes and Culex because these groups differ in traits, thereby allowing environmental filters to produce differences in container mosquito communities.
Under specific aim 3 we will link data from the field on natural populations of mosquitoes (aim 1) and oviposition and larval traits to environmental factors (aim 2), by performing field experiments that quantify the response of oviposition of target species to specific tire environments. Together, these specific aims will expand our understanding of the role of the environment in shaping patterns of disease vectors from containers, and bring us closer to being able to predict occurrence patterns of medically important species of Aedes and Culex.

Public Health Relevance

Despite decades of research, the ability to forecast the production of medically important mosquitoes from many habitats is still poor. This lack of predictive ability presents a serious impediment to those engaged in designing vector control and public health strategies. Mosquitoes that occupy containers, especially those containers that occur in association with humans, can pose a significant public health problem by vectoring important human disease (e.g., St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile virus, Dengue). This project has the goal of understanding populations of mosquitoes via the role of environmental filtering on oviposition and larval traits. A cohesive and systematic effort to decipher the environmental forces that filter out or promote certain species is currently lacking, although such an approach, like the one proposed here, will aid the ability to better understand disease dynamics through having a better ability to forecast population dynamics of medically important container species.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Vector Biology Study Section (VB)
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Costero, Adriana
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University of Southern Mississippi
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Allgood, David W; Yee, Donald A (2017) Oviposition preference and offspring performance in container breeding mosquitoes: evaluating the effects of organic compounds and laboratory colonisation. Ecol Entomol 42:506-516
Daniels, Silvano; Ezeakacha, Nnaemeka F; Yee, Donald A (2016) Interspecific Interactions Between Adult Aedes albopictus and Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae). J Med Entomol 53:466-9
Yee, Donald A; Abuzeineh, Alisa A; Ezeakacha, Nnaemeka F et al. (2015) Mosquito Larvae in Tires from Mississippi, United States: The Efficacy of Abiotic and Biotic Parameters in Predicting Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Mosquito Populations and Communities. J Med Entomol 52:394-407
Yee, Donald A; Kaufman, Michael G; Ezeakacha, Nnaemeka F (2015) How Diverse Detrital Environments Influence Nutrient Stoichiometry between Males and Females of the Co-Occurring Container Mosquitoes Aedes albopictus, Ae. aegypti, and Culex quinquefasciatus. PLoS One 10:e0133734
Skiff, J J; Yee, D A (2014) Behavioral differences among four co-occurring species of container mosquito larvae: effects of depth and resource environments. J Med Entomol 51:375-81
Allgood, D W; Yee, D A (2014) Influence of resource levels, organic compounds and laboratory colonization on interspecific competition between the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus (Stegomyia albopicta) and the southern house mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus. Med Vet Entomol 28:273-86
Yee, D A; Skiff, J F (2014) Interspecific competition of a new invasive mosquito, Culex coronator, and two container mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus and Cx. quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae), across different detritus environments. J Med Entomol 51:89-96