The importance of temperature fluctuations in understanding mosquito population dynamics and malaria risk

Lindsay M. Beck-Johnson, William A. Nelson, Krijn P. Paaijmans, Andrewf Read, Matthew B. Thomas, Ottar N. Bjørnstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

Temperature is a key environmental driver of Anopheles mosquito population dynamics; understanding its central role is important for these malaria vectors. Mosquito population responses to temperature fluctuations, though important across the life history, are poorly understood at a population level. We used stage-structured, temperature-dependent delay-differential equations to conduct a detailed exploration of the impacts of diurnal and annual temperature fluctuations on mosquito population dynamics. The model allows exploration of temperature-driven temporal changes in adult age structure, giving insights into the population’s capacity to vector malaria parasites. Because of temperature-dependent shifts in age structure, the abundance of potentially infectious mosquitoes varies temporally, and does not necessarily mirror the dynamics of the total adult population. In addition to conducting the first comprehensive theoretical exploration of fluctuating temperatures on mosquito population dynamics, we analysed observed temperatures at four locations in Africa covering a range of environmental conditions. We found both temperature and precipitation are needed to explain the observed malaria season in these locations, enhancing our understanding of the drivers of malaria seasonality and how temporal disease risk may shift in response to temperature changes. This approach, tracking both mosquito abundance and age structure, may be a powerful tool for understanding current and future malaria risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number160969
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Volume4
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 8 2017

Keywords

  • Age structure
  • Delay-differential equations
  • Malaria risk
  • Mosquito population dynamics
  • Seasonality
  • Temperature fluctuation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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