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Using Wolbachia Releases to Estimate Aedes aegypti (Diptera: Culicidae) Population Size and Survival.

Abstract

Mosquitoes carrying the endosymbiont bacterium Wolbachia have been deployed in field trials as a biological control intervention due to Wolbachia effects on reducing transmission of arboviruses. We performed mark, release and recapture (MRR) experiments using Wolbachia as an internal marker with daily collections with BG-Traps during the first two weeks of releases in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The MRR design allowed us to investigate two critical parameters that determine whether Wolbachia would successful invade a field population: the probability of daily survival (PDS) of Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti females, and the wild population density during releases. Released females had a PDS of 0.82 and 0.89 in the first and second weeks, respectively, immediately after releases, which is well within the range of previous estimates of survivorship of wild mosquitoes in Rio de Janeiro. Abundance estimation of wild population varied up to 10-fold higher depending on the estimation method used (634-3565 females on the average-difference model to 6365-16188 females according to Lincoln-Petersen). Wolbachia-released mosquitoes were lower than the density estimation of their wild counterparts, irrespectively of the model used. Individually screening mosquitoes for the presence of Wolbachia reduced uncertainty on abundance estimations due to fluctuation in capturing per week. A successful invasion into local population requires Ae. aegypti fitness is unaffected by Wolbachia presence, but also reliable estimates on the population size of wild mosquitoes.

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