February 2, 2009
Water hording may aid dengue fever spread
Australian scientists say hoarding water as climate change intensifies might aid the dengue fever-carrying mosquito Aedes aegypti in extending its range.
The lead author of the study, Michael Kearney of the University of Melbourne, said climate change and evolutionary change could act together to accelerate and expand the mosquito's range. But human behavior in the form of storing water to cope with climate change is likely to have an even greater impact.
The potential direct impact of climate on the distribution and abundance of (Aedes) aegypti is minor when compared to the potential effect of changed water-storage behavior, said Kearney. "In many Australian cities and towns, a major impact of climate change is reduced rainfall, resulting in a dramatic increase in domestic rainwater storage and other forms of water hoarding.
Water tanks and other water storage vessels such as modified wheelie bins are potential breeding sites for this disease-bearing mosquito. Without due caution with water storage hygiene, this indirect effect of climate change via human adaptation could dramatically re-expand the mosquito's current range.
The study appears in the journal Functional Ecology.