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Fine-scale modelling finds that breeding site fragmentation can reduce mosquito population persistence.

Abstract

Fine-scale geographic variation in the transmission intensity of mosquito-borne diseases is primarily caused by variation in the density of female adult mosquitoes. Therefore, an understanding of fine-scale mosquito population dynamics is critical to understanding spatial heterogeneity in disease transmission and persistence at those scales. However, mathematical models of dengue and malaria transmission, which consider the dynamics of mosquito larvae, generally do not account for the fragmented structure of larval breeding sites. Here, we develop a stochastic metapopulation model of mosquito population dynamics and explore the impact of accounting for breeding site fragmentation when modelling fine-scale mosquito population dynamics. We find that, when mosquito population densities are low, fragmentation can lead to a reduction in population size, with population persistence dependent on mosquito dispersal and features of the underlying landscape. We conclude that using non-spatial models to represent fine-scale mosquito population dynamics may substantially underestimate the stochastic volatility of those populations.

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