Theoretical and computational
ecology laboratory

TIGER: The tiger mosquito invasion in Spain: A public health risk caused by global change.

Project start date: May, 2014

PI: F.Bartumeus. Co-PI: Marc Ventura. Plan Estatal I+D+I. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad. (2014-2016). REF: CGL2013-43139-R.

The recent colonization and establishment of the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) in Spain directly impacts public health in terms of citizens’ welfare and the potential transmission of diseases like dengue, chikungunya fever, of which Europe has already seen mosquito-driven outbreaks. Since 2004 mosquito control services and applied entomologists have been challenged with the enormous task of mitigating the spread of this invasive species within the context of global change. Modern integrated mosquito control strategies rely on deep knowledge of the ecology and behaviour of the targeted species, and such knowledge is still limited with respect to the tiger mosquito. Using unique datasets, together with new data from this proposal, we quantify the extent to which global change (climate and human-related factors) is facilitating the spread of the tiger mosquito in eastern Spain, and the extent to which currently applied control measures are helping to contain it. We take a multidisciplinary and integrative approach, going from spatial modelling to field work and vice-versa. We expect the models to improve both the predictive power of maps showing tiger mosquito risk and dispersion (including linkages to socio-environmental variables) and the mechanistic understanding of long-term population dynamics (climate forcing vs. life cycle). Our modelling will be supported by population genetic analyses. Understanding the genetic variability of tiger mosquito populations in Spain will answer questions related to the evolution and natural history of the invasion process. The project also aims to involve actors, stakeholders and citizens in the control, surveillance and study of Ae. albopictus in Spain and make findings accessible to the public using a ready to-use cell-phone based citizen science platform, meeting the current social demands for novel participative science tools.

Funding organization

Plan Estatal I+D+I. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.