Temporal and spatial genetic variation within and among populations of the mosquito Culex tarsalis (Diptera: Culicidae) from California

John E. Gimnig, William Reisen, Bruge F. Eldridge, Katherine C. Nixon, Stephen J. Schutz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The genetic structure of 11 populations of Culex tarsalis Coquillett from California and 1 population from Nevada was examined at 18 loci using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Six populations from northern and southern California were sampled repeatedly to determine if the genetic structure of Cx. tarsalis changes seasonally. Significant differences in allele frequencies at 13 different loci were seen in 3 populations over time as determined by contingency chi-square tests. Nei's genetic distance coefficients among different sampling dates was consistently <0.025. The number of alleles per locus in these populations ranged from 1.6 to 2.7, whereas the average heterozygosity ranged from 0.086 to 0.228. No single locus was found to vary in a consistent pattern within all populations that were sampled repeatedly. These results indicate that Cx. tarsalis populations are genetically stable over time and that temporal variation is due to fluctuations in population size or immigration of genetically distinct individuals. In contrast, Cx. tarsalis did exhibit some differences in genetic structure that were related to geographical features including the Sierra Nevada and the Tehachapi Mountains of southern California. Genetically differentiated populations occurred in Nevada, southern and northeastern California, and the Central Valley of California. Little differentiation was observed among populations located in the Central Valley of California and those located at high elevations in the Sierra Nevada. Thus, in the populations examined, mountain ranges or arid conditions that limit the number of larval development sites appeared to be important barriers to the dispersal of Cx. tarsalis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


  • Culex tarsalis
  • Population genetics
  • Seasonal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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