Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2011 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Understanding Connections between Urban Decay and Mosquito Production in West Baltimore
Becker, Brian
Co-Authors: Shannon LaDeau, Paul Leisnham

Over the past several decades many of the largest American cities have experienced severe population declines. In the process of population shrinkage, cities typically experience a number of infrastructural changes (i.e., decay) that may significantly alter the biotic environment. Urban decay notably alters the built environment within affected neighborhoods through the deterioration of buildings and the accumulation of trash. Previous studies have found greater densities of breeding mosquitoes associated with lower socio-economic status neighborhoods. In this study we examined the effects of roofless abandoned buildings and urban decay on mosquito production in Baltimore, Maryland. We evaluated peak-season differences in both adult and larval mosquito densities in two city blocks located in West Baltimore that were similar in area and row house structure, but represented relatively low and high decay, as represented by the incidences of vacant homes and roof damage. Though we had expected to find larger populations of biting and breeding mosquitoes in the block with more vacant buildings and associated garbage, we sampled significantly greater numbers of both adults and immature mosquitoes in the higher socio-economic, low-decay block. While the vacant buildings in the high-decay block were associated with trash accumulation, much of the potential mosquito habitat around the vacant parcels was dry during our sample period. These results suggest that while urban decay may create important larval breeding habitat across the full season, other landscape and temporal factors play an important role in maintaining mosquito abundance during the dry, peak season.