Quantifying the drivers of larval density patterns in two tropical mosquito species to maximize control efficiency

Siobhan C. De Little, David M.J.S. Bowman, Peter I. Whelan, Barry W. Brook, Corey J.A. Bradshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding the contributions of environmental variation and density feedbacks to changes in vector populations is essential for designing effective vector control. We analyzed monitoring datasets describing larval densities over 7 yr of the two dominant mosquito species, Aedes vigilax (Skuse) and Culex annulirostris (Skuse), of the greater Darwin area (Northern Territory, Australia). Using generalized linear and linear mixed-effects models, we tested hypotheses regarding the environmental determinants of spatio-temporal patterns in relative larval abundance in both species. The most important spatial drivers of Ae. vigilax and Cx. annulirostris larval densities were elevation and water presence. Ae. vigilax density correlates negatively with elevation, whereas there was a positive relationship between Cx. annulirostris density and elevation. These results show how larval habitats used by the saltwater-influenced breeder Ae. vigilax and the obligate freshwater breeder Cx. annulirostris are separated in a tidally influenced swamp. The models examining temporal drivers of larval density also identified this discrimination between freshwater and saltwater habitats. Ae. vigilax larval densities were positively related to maximum tide height and high tide frequency, whereas Cx. annulirostris larval densities were positively related to elevation and rainfall. Adult abundance in the previous month was the most important temporal driver of larval densities in both species, providing a clear dynamical link between the two main life phases in mosquito development. This study shows the importance of considering both spatial and temporal drivers, and intrinsic population dynamics, when planning vector control strategies to reduce larval density, adult population density, and disease transmission effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1013-1021
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Aedes vigilax
  • Culex annulirostris
  • Density dependence
  • Larval habitats
  • Vector control


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