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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Crop Bioprotection Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332351

Research Project: New Ovicidal Microbial Agents for the Biological Control of Mosquitoes

Location: Crop Bioprotection Research

Title: Large-scale removal of invasive honeysuckle decreases mosquito and avian host abundance

Author
item Gardner, Allison - University Of Maine
item Muturi, Ephantus (juma)
item Overmier, Leah - University Of Illinois
item Allan, Brian - University Of Illinois

Submitted to: EcoHealth
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/20/2017
Publication Date: 8/4/2017
Citation: Gardner, A.M., Muturi, E.J., Overmier, L.D., Allan, B.F. 2017. Large-scale removal of invasive honeysuckle decreases mosquito and avian host abundance. EcoHealth. 14:750:761. doi: 10.1007/s10393-017-1265-6.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10393-017-1265-6

Interpretive Summary: Exotic invasive plants (here after “invasive species) have become common in many ecosystems throughout the world and rank second only to habitat destruction as a threat to native biodiversity. There also is evidence that invasive species may influence the risk of exposure to vector-borne diseases by altering the complex chain of interaction between the vector, the pathogen, and the human or wildlife reservoir host. In this study, we investigated how removal of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), an invasive plant that occurs widely throughout the Midwestern and northeastern United States, affects the abundance of mosquitoes including two of the most important vectors of West Nile Virus Culex pipiens and Cx. restuans. We also assessed how honeysuckle removal affects resident avian communities and local microclimate. We found that (a) removal of Amur honeysuckle reduces the abundance of both vector species and non-vector species that commonly feed on human hosts, (b) areas invaded with honeysuckle support local microclimates that are favorable to mosquitoes, and (c) the abundance and composition of avian hosts is altered by honeysuckle removal. Our results demonstrate that a highly invasive understory shrub may enhance the risk of mosquito-borne diseases by providing ideal conditions for mosquitoes. The results also demonstrate that management of certain invasive plants may be a viable option for reducing the burden of vector-borne diseases.

Technical Abstract: Invasive species rank second only to habitat destruction as a threat to native biodiversity. One consequence of biological invasions is altered risk of exposure to infectious diseases in human and animal populations. The distribution and prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases depend on the complex interactions between the vector, the pathogen, and the human or wildlife reservoir host. These interactions are highly susceptible to disturbance by invasive species, including terrestrial plants. We conducted a two-year field experiment using a Before-After/Control-Impact design to examine how removal of invasive Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) in a forest fragment embedded within a residential neighborhood affects the abundance of mosquitoes, including two of the most important vectors of West Nile virus, Culex pipiens and Cx. restuans. We also assessed any potential changes in avian communities and local microclimate associated with Amur honeysuckle removal. We found that (1) removal of Amur honeysuckle reduces the abundance of both vector and non-vector mosquito species that commonly feed on human hosts, (2) the abundance and composition of avian hosts is altered by honeysuckle removal, and (3) areas invaded with honeysuckle support local microclimates that are favorable to mosquito survival. Collectively, our investigations demonstrate the role of a highly invasive understory shrub in determining the abundance and distribution of mosquitoes and suggest potential mechanisms underlying this pattern. Our results also give rise to additional questions regarding the general impact of invasive plants on vector-borne diseases and the spatial scale at which removal of invasive plants may be utilized to effect disease control.