Understanding the Interconnectedness of Climate Change, Salt Marsh Resilience, and Nuisance Mosquitoes

Date and Time: 
Tue, 02/23/2021 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Speaker(s): 
Richard Lathrop, Lisa Auermuller, Kaitlin Gannon, and Dina Fonseca
Location: 
Webinar

As climate change and sea level rise alter salt marsh habitats, a less understood impact - with implications for human health - is how changes in marsh habitat affect the production and location of nuisance mosquito populations. Understanding how coastal ecosystems are being impacted by climate change, and how nuisance mosquito populations are changing, is critical to ensuring coastal managers make the most informed decisions going forward.  

In this webinar, project team members described how data-collection, mapping, and modeling efforts have resulted in increased clarity about marsh habitat change to inform mosquito control and coastal restoration efforts in New Jersey. Future modeling and marsh‐upland edge mapping suggest that the marsh‐upland is and will be a hotspot for change, and field sampling confirmed that these “new” habitats can serve as breeding areas for mosquitoes. The team also developed environmental DNA (eDNA) assays for the most common salt marsh mosquitoes in the Middle Atlantic United States. Working closely with mosquito control agency personnel, the team has made major advancements in mosquito surveillance through the deployment of drone-based sampling of breeding pools paired with the eDNA analyses. The team also developed outreach materials to inform the public about health risks posed by mosquitoes, including how climate change might exacerbate those risks, and a module for middle/high school educators.

Learn more about the speakers:

Richard Lathrop, Professor, Director, Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing & Spatial Analysis, Rutgers University

Rick Lathrop is a professor of ecology and watershed monitoring. His research focuses largely on water resources and providing coastal communities with scientific information and tools for decision making in the face of climate change and sea level rise. Rick served as the project lead, coordinating the many aspects of the project and leading the mapping and modeling elements.

Lisa AuermullerAssistant Manager, Jacques Cousteau NERR

In her role at the Reserve, Lisa Auermuller's duties include assessing the needs of coastal decision makers and providing relevant and timely training opportunities. Lisa has been working with a variety of partners to develop tools and protocols to help communities understand their risks, plan for those risks and put adaptation measures into place. Lisa served as the collaborative lead for the project.

Kaitlin Gannon, Education Coordinator, Jacques Cousteau NERR

Kaitlin Gannon is the Education Coordinator for the JC NERR. She has extensive training in wildlife interpretation and conservation. Kaitlin supported outreach efforts for the project and developed the educational module for use in Teachers on the Estuary (TOTE) trainings.

Dina Fonseca, Professor, Director, Center for Vector Biology, Rutgers University

Dina Fonseca is a molecular medical and veterinary entomologist. She primarily develops tools to reveal incipient infestations, identify which traits are associated with expansion and damage of invasive species, and optimize management strategies. Dina served as the project co-lead, coordinating the development of the mosquito eDNA assays.

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Referenced Project(s): 
Investigating the Interconnectedness of Climate Change, Nuisance Mosquitoes, and Resilience of Coastal Salt Marsh Systems