Large herbivore loss has complex effects on mosquito ecology and vector-borne disease risk

Loss of biodiversity can affect transmission of infectious diseases in at least two ways: by altering host and vector abundance or by influencing host and vector behavior. We used a large herbivore exclusion experiment to investigate the effects of wildlife loss on the abundance and feeding behavior of mosquito vectors and to explore consequences for vector-borne disease transmission. Large herbivore loss affected both mosquito abundance and blood-feeding behavior. For Aedes mcintoshi, the dominant mosquito species in our study and a primary vector of Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV), abundance decreased with large herbivore loss, while blood-feeding on humans increased. Despite an elevated human biting rate in the absence of large herbivores, we estimated that the potential for RVFV transmission to humans doubles in the presence of large herbivores. These results demonstrate that multiple effects of biodiversity loss on vectors can lead to counterintuitive outcomes for human disease risk.

Publish DateJuly 12, 2021
Last UpdatedJuly 12, 2021
Size14 MB