Relevant microclimate for determining the development rate of malaria mosquitoes and possible implications of climate change

Krijn P. Paaijmans, Susan S. Imbahale, Matthew B. Thomas, Willem Takken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Background. The relationship between mosquito development and temperature is one of the keys to understanding the current and future dynamics and distribution of vector-borne diseases such as malaria. Many process-based models use mean air temperature to estimate larval development times, and hence adult vector densities and/or malaria risk. Methods. Water temperatures in three different-sized water pools, as well as the adjacent air temperature in lowland and highland sites in western Kenya were monitored. Both air and water temperatures were fed into a widely-applied temperature-dependent development model for Anopheles gambiae immatures, and subsequently their impact on predicted vector abundance was assessed. Results. Mean water temperature in typical mosquito breeding sites was 4-6°C higher than the mean temperature of the adjacent air, resulting in larval development rates, and hence population growth rates, that are much higher than predicted based on air temperature. On the other hand, due to the non-linearities in the relationship between temperature and larval development rate, together with a marginal buffering in the increase in water temperature compared with air temperature, the relative increases in larval development rates predicted due to climate change are substantially less. Conclusions. Existing models will tend to underestimate mosquito population growth under current conditions, and may overestimate relative increases in population growth under future climate change. These results highlight the need for better integration of biological and environmental information at the scale relevant to mosquito biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number196
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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