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Field studies on breeding sites of Culicoides LATREILLE (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) in agriculturally used and natural habitats

Culicoides are vectors of pathogens mainly of veterinary importance. To establish targeted vector control measures, it is paramount to comprehend the ecological factors determining their distribution. Therefore, we used emergence traps to sample eight biotopes and assess their potential as breeding sites. Part one of the study investigates agricultural habitats, part two compares four biotopes of a forest-dominated area with less anthropogenic influence, including a physicochemical analysis of soil moisture, pH value and organic content. Thirteen culicoid species were collected, with a strong dominance of the Obsoletus Complex on meadows, and with Culicoides punctatus (MEIGEN), Culicoides pictipennis (STAEGER) and the Obsoletus Complex, to be the most abundant species in the natural habitats. Several co-existing species were found, some of them not having been described before. Our results suggest that ungrazed meadows seem unsuitable as breeding sites. Only the influence of livestock creates adequate conditions for certain midge species. The alder on fen site contained most culicoid species with the highest species diversity. Our study clearly indicates that knowledge of species-specific preferences for environmental habitat conditions (choice of breeding site) in connection to soil conditions is crucial to understand the biology and phenology of midges and their role as vectors of pathogens.

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