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Natural colonization and adaptation of a mosquito species in Galapagos and its implications for disease threats to endemic wildlife

Bataille A., Cunningham A.A., Cedeño V., Patiño L., Constantinou A., Kramer L.D., Goodman S.J.. 2009. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106 (25) : p. 10230-10235.

Emerging infectious diseases of wildlife have been recognized as a major threat to global biodiversity. Endemic species on isolated oceanic islands, such as the Galápagos, are particularly at risk in the face of introduced pathogens and disease vectors. The black salt-marsh mosquito (Aedes taeniorhynchus) is the only mosquito widely distributed across the Galápagos Archipelago. Here we show that this mosquito naturally colonized the Galápagos before the arrival of man, and since then it has evolved to represent a distinct evolutionary unit and has adapted to habitats unusual for its coastal progenitor. We also present evidence that A. taeniorhynchus feeds on reptiles in Galápagos in addition to previously reported mammal and bird hosts, highlighting the important role this mosquito might play as a bridge-vector in the transmission and spread of extant and newly introduced diseases in the Galápagos Islands. These findings are particularly pertinent for West Nile virus, which can cause significant morbidity and mortality in mammals (including humans), birds, and reptiles, and which recently has spread from an introductory focus in New York to much of the North and South American mainland and could soon reach the Galápagos Islands. Unlike Hawaii, there are likely to be no highland refugia free from invading mosquito-borne diseases in Galápagos, suggesting bleak outcomes to possible future pathogen introduction events. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Organismes nuisibles des animaux; Maladies des animaux; Ecologie animale

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