Emerging infectious diseases are considered to be a growing threat to human and wildlife health. Such diseases might be facilitated by anthropogenic land-use changes that cause novel juxtapositions of different habitats and species and result in new interchanges of vectors, diseases, and hosts. To search for such effects in tropical Australia, we sampled mosquito populations across anthropogenic disturbance gradients of grassland, artificial rainforest edge, and rainforest interior. From > 15,000 captured mosquitoes, we identified 26 species and eight genera. Surprisingly, there was no significant difference in community composition or species richness between forest edges and grasslands, but both differed significantly from rainforest interiors. Mosquito species richness was elevated in grasslands relative to the rainforest habitats. Seven species were unique to grasslands and edges, with another 13 found across all habitats. Among the three most abundant species, Culex annulirostris occurred in all habitat types, whereas Verrallina lineata and Cx. pullus were more abundant in forest interiors. Our findings suggest that the creation of anthropogenic grasslands adjacent to rainforests may increase the susceptibility of species in both habitats to transmission of novel diseases via observable changes and mixing of the vector community on rainforest edges.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1