Anthropogenic impacts on mosquito populations in North America over the past century

Ilia Rochlin, Ary Faraji, Dominick V. Ninivaggi, Chris Barker, A. Marm Kilpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The recent emergence and spread of vector-borne viruses including Zika, chikungunya and dengue has raised concerns that climate change may cause mosquito vectors of these diseases to expand into more temperate regions. However, the long-term impact of other anthropogenic factors on mosquito abundance and distributions is less studied. Here, we show that anthropogenic chemical use (DDT; dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and increasing urbanization were the strongest drivers of changes in mosquito populations over the last eight decades in areas on both coasts of North America. Mosquito populations have increased as much as tenfold, and mosquito communities have become two-to fourfold richer over the last five decades. These increases are correlated with the decay in residual environmental DDT concentrations and growing human populations, but not with temperature. These results illustrate the far-reaching impacts of multiple anthropogenic disturbances on animal communities and suggest that interactions between land use and chemical use may have unforeseen consequences on ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13604
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - Dec 6 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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