Research ArticleECOLOGY

Landscape variation influences trophic cascades in dengue vector food webs

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Science Advances  21 Feb 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 2, eaap9534
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap9534

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The epidemiology of vector-borne diseases is governed by a structured array of correlative and causative factors, including landscape (for example, rural versus urban), abiotic (for example, weather), and biotic (for example, food web) factors. Studies of mosquito-borne diseases rarely address these multiple factors at large spatial scales, which limits insights into how human alterations of landscapes and food webs alter mosquito abundance. We used structural equation modeling to identify the relative magnitude and direction of landscape, abiotic, and food web factors on Aedes larvae and adults across 70 sites in northern Thailand. Food web factors were modeled as mosquito-predator trophic cascades. Landscape context affected mosquito-predator communities in aquatic and terrestrial environments via cascading food web interactions. Several mosquito predators within these food webs showed potential as biocontrol agents in mosquito population control, but their potentials for control were landscape-dependent. In terrestrial food webs, the habitat-sensitive tokay gecko structured mosquito-predator communities, indicating that a conservation approach to vector control could be a useful addition to existing control efforts.

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