From genes to ecology: The current and future distribution of arbovirus vectors in BC

Mosquitoes are the world’s deadliest animals due to the pathogens they spread and are often highly invasive. Arboviruses (arthropod-borne viruses) are spread by arthropods such as mosquitoes, and frequently infect both human and animal hosts. Multiple mosquito-vectored arboviruses have spread to new regions recently, including West Nile virus and Zika virus. While the mode of introduction is often unknown, the movement of infected mosquitoes or infected animal hosts are believed to be two of the methods responsible.

East Asia is an area from which arboviruses and mosquito vectors are at increasing risk of introduction to BC. I will survey the distribution of mosquitoes that vector established arboviruses in BC, or that could serve as vectors for arboviruses at risk of emerging in BC, particularly in northern and rural regions. I will use machine learning to model the distribution of these species now and in future climate change. What makes a mosquito species likely to be invasive will be studied using genomics, ecology, and cutting-edge behavioural techniques. Once these traits are known, I will model potential habitat in BC of candidate species from east Asia that could  become invasive in BC.