Dengue vector food webs: geckos, spiders and mosquitoes

Effective management of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, requires that we understand how human modifications of the landscape affect mosquito populations. Increased mosquito populations may result from changes in predator community composition caused by habitat modification. We tested for this effect at a regional scale by investigating how landscape context affects both terrestrial and aquatic mosquito food-webs in 70 sites across northwestern Thailand. Landscape context strongly affected mosquito-predator communities in both the aquatic and terrestrial environment via cascading food-web interactions. Several components of these food-webs that could be manipulated for conservation biocontrol, such as house-dwelling spiders and geckos, were strongly affected by landscape context and played an important role in regulating the mosquito population. In the terrestrial food-web, the habitat-sensitive tokay gecko was critical in structuring mosquito predator communities showing that a conservation approach to vector control could be a useful addition to existing control efforts.

The complete study can be found under the following link: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/4/2/eaap9534.full.pdf

 

Figure on top: The large tokay gecko was found to feed on smaller house geckos (Hemidactylus spp.), which caused an increase in spiders due to reduced predation. Subsequently this resulted in less Aedes mosquitoes. In forest habitats Tokay geckos were more common in comparison to urban habitats. Tokay absence contributed to increased mosquito densities in urban areas.

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