Larval habitat associations with human land uses, roads, rivers, and land cover for Anopheles albimanus, A. pseudopunctipennis, and A. punctimacula (Diptera: Culicidae) in coastal and highland Ecuador
Pinault, Lauren L.
Hunter, Fiona F.
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Larval habitat for three highland Anopheles species: Anopheles albimanus Wiedemann, Anopheles pseudopunctipennis Theobald, and Anopheles punctimacula Dyar and Knab was related to human land uses, rivers, roads, and remotely sensed land cover classifications in the western Ecuadorian Andes. Of the five commonly observed human land uses, cattle pasture (n = 30) provided potentially suitable habitat for A. punctimacula and A. albimanus in less than 14% of sites, and was related in a principal components analysis (PCA) to the presence of macrophyte vegetation, greater surface area, clarity, and algae cover. Empty lots (n = 30) were related in the PCA to incident sunlight and provided potential habitat for A. pseudopunctipennis and A. albimanus in less than 14% of sites. The other land uses surveyed (banana, sugarcane, and mixed tree plantations; n = 28, 21, 25, respectively) provided very little standing water that could potentially be used for larval habitat. River edges and eddies (n = 41) were associated with greater clarity, depth, temperature, and algae cover, which provide potentially suitable habitat for A. albimanus in 58% of sites and A. pseudopunctipennis in 29% of sites. Road-associated water bodies (n = 38) provided potential habitat for A. punctimacula in 44% of sites and A. albimanus in 26% of sites surveyed. Species collection localities were compared to land cover classifications using Geographic Information Systems software. All three mosquito species were associated more often with the category “closed/open broadleaved evergreen and/or semi-deciduous forests” than expected (P ≤ 0.01 in all cases), given such a habitat’s abundance. This study provides evidence that specific human land uses create habitat for potential malaria vectors in highland regions of the Andes.