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1 August 2022 Effects of woody plant encroachment by eastern redcedar on mosquito communities in Oklahoma
Courtney Maichak, Kris Hiney, Scott R. Loss, Justin L. Talley, Bruce H. Noden
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Abstract

Woody plant encroachment into grasslands is occurring worldwide, affecting ecosystems in ways that likely influence mosquito-borne disease transmission. In the U.S. Great Plains, encroachment by eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) (ERC) may be expanding conducive habitat for mosquitoes and their hosts, but few studies have evaluated associations between ERC encroachment and West Nile virus (WNV). To test the hypotheses that mosquito abundance and WNV-infected mosquitoes increase with increasing ERC cover, we collected mosquitoes in 32 sites in Oklahoma reflecting various ERC encroachment stages. We found support for our first hypothesis, as mean abundance of Aedes albopictus increased significantly with ERC cover. However, Psorophora columbiae and Anopheles quadrimaculatus abundance decreased with increasing ERC. There was no significant association with ERC for other mosquito species. We could not test our second hypothesis due to low WNV prevalence, but the only detected WNV-infected pool of mosquitoes (Cx. tarsalis) was collected in ERC. Our results suggest ERC encroachment increases abundance of at least one medically important mosquito species, but further research is needed to clarify how encroachment affects ecology of the entire WNV disease system through changes to vector and host communities, vector-host interactions, and thus disease transmission and prevalence. Understanding relationships between woody plant encroachment and the nidus of infection for mosquito-borne diseases will be crucial for targeting public health efforts, including land management activities that limit and/or eradicate woody plant encroachment, particularly in areas with high levels of disease risk.

Courtney Maichak, Kris Hiney, Scott R. Loss, Justin L. Talley, and Bruce H. Noden "Effects of woody plant encroachment by eastern redcedar on mosquito communities in Oklahoma," Journal of Vector Ecology 47(2), 179-187, (1 August 2022). https://doi.org/10.52707/1081-1710-47.2.179
Received: 6 April 2022; Accepted: 27 June 2022; Published: 1 August 2022
JOURNAL ARTICLE
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KEYWORDS
Aedes albopictus
Culex tarsalis
West Nile virus
woody plant encroachment
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