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 mosquito control agencies and coastal managers make the most informed decisions going forward.
Through data-collection, mapping, and modeling efforts, this project has 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 project team 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, major advancements were made 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.
The video clip below shows how drones were employed to obtain water samples from marsh pools for later eDNA analysis.