Buzzing Homes: Using Citizen Science Data to Explore the Effects of Urbanization on Indoor Mosquito Communities
Urbanization has been associated with a loss of overall biodiversity and a simultaneous increase in the abundance of a few species that thrive in urban habitats, such as highly adaptable mosquito vectors. To better understand how mosquito communities differ between levels of urbanization, we analyzed mosquito samples from inside private homes submitted to the citizen science project ‘Mückenatlas’. Applying two urbanization indicators based on soil sealing and human population density, we compared species composition and diversity at, and preferences towards, different urbanization levels. Species composition between groups of lowest and highest levels of urbanization differed significantly, which was presumably caused by reduced species richness and the dominance of synanthropic mosquito species in urban areas. The genus Anopheles was frequently submitted from areas with a low degree of urbanization, Aedes with a moderate degree, and Culex and Culiseta with a high degree of urbanization. Making use of citizen science data, this first study of indoor mosquito diversity in Germany demonstrated a simplification of communities with increasing urbanization. The dominance of vector-competent species in urban areas poses a potential risk of epidemics of mosquito-borne diseases that can only be contained by a permanent monitoring of mosquitoes and by acquiring a deeper knowledge about how anthropogenic activities affect vector ecology.