Trans-boundary ecosystem effects on vector community diversity
Bowden, Sarah Elizabeth
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The importance of biodiversity to ecosystem health and functioning at global, regional, and local scales is becoming increasingly evident in the ecological and biological sciences. Biodiversity provides key ecosystem services, promotes ecosystem, human, and wildlife health, and can provide a buffer to the introduction and spread of infectious diseases. Specifically, high host diversity is known to decrease pathogen transmission of vector-borne pathogens, a phenomenon known as the dilution effect. In recent studies, the effects of biodiversity on disease systems have been explored primarily with respect to the host community. However, many multi-host vector-borne pathogens, like West Nile virus (WNV), St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV), and Chikungunya virus, are also transmitted by diverse vector communities. The effects of vector community biodiversity on pathogen transmission have been much neglected compared with effects of host community diversity. As mosquitoes are the most abundant vector of arboviruses in the world, a deeper understanding of the ecology and transmission dynamics of vector communities will serve as a model for understanding the ecology of multi-host pathogens in general, as well as important zoonoses like Dengue virus and Zika virus. With this in mind, my dissertation research aimed to answer the following questions: (1) How do interspecific interactions during the larval life stage affect population growth and coexistence?; (2) Are the effects of interspecific larval competition temperature-dependent?; and (3) How does competition between vector species affect pathogen transmission?