Stormwater & mosquito control project
In Lead Investigator Brian Allan’s words: “Mosquito-borne diseases continue to pose a major threat to human health worldwide despite substantial global eradication efforts — in part because many mosquito vectors breed in human-made aquatic habitats in urban areas worldwide. The primary strategy for mosquito control is extensive application of synthetic pesticides targeting juveniles in aquatic habitats, but this is largely unsuccessful.
“A better solution may be to eliminate the aquatic breeding habitats for mosquitoes in urban areas altogether. ‘Green Infrastructure’ technologies to manage stormwater act to both reduce the rate of flow from large rainfall events and to intercept and retain runoff and contaminants on site for water quality improvement. An unintended benefit is that Green Infrastructure appears to eliminate the aquatic habitats in which mosquito larvae develop. We believe that Green Infrastructure also can be combined with a second mosquito control strategy: the manipulation of the aquatic microbiome, which forms the base of the food web for mosquitoes in stormwater habitats, will inhibit mosquito growth.
“The combination of these approaches may offer innovative and environmentally sustainable alternatives for mosquito-borne disease control and reduced dependency on insecticides. Our research project will integrate hydrological modeling and CyberGIS approaches into our field and laboratory studies of stormwater infrastructure and the aquatic microbiome to extend our findings to other regions.
“Our team draws upon multiple areas of considerable historical strength at the University of Illinois: vector biology, environmental engineering, genomic biology, and spatial analysis. This research will offer novel solutions to the persistent problem of mosquito-borne disease control while building a research initiative into sustainable infrastructure and public health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”
- NSF Awards $800K for Microbial Assembly Study
- PAPER: Invasive Plants Tied to Mosquito Survival
- Summer 2017 Progress Update
- Summer 2016 Progress Update
You’ve heard that “you are what you eat.” But could what you are in return influence what’s available to eat?
Animal Biology Professor Carla Cáceres, a co-PI on iSEE’s Stormwater and Mosquito Control project, will receive $800,000 over three years from the National Science Foundation to study potential feedback loops between the food web mosquito larvae are born into and the chemistry of their gut. Through the “Community Assembly Across Scales of Ecological Organization” study, her goal is to better understand the mechanics of the relationships between invertebrate hosts (such as mosquitoes) and their microbes in natural systems.
The project will focus on two questions: 1) Is the assembly of a common grazer’s gut microbiota driven by the corresponding assembly of the invertebrate food web? 2) Do microbiome-driven differences in the growth rate of community members influence invertebrate community assembly?
Cáceres will collaborate with several Illinois researchers and outside partners, including Stormwater and Mosquito Control PI Brian Allan, an Associate Professor of Entomology; Allison Hansen, an Assistant Professor of Entomology; Ephantus Muturi, a Research Entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Zoi Rapti, an Associate Professor of Mathematics.
Removing invasive honeysuckle from forested areas may lead to fewer mosquitoes in your neighborhood — including the kind that spread West Nile Virus — according to a paper in the August 2017 edition of EcoHealth by PI Brian Allan and members of of his project team.
During a two-year study in two separate forest fragments in residential neighborhoods in nearby Mahomet, Ill., team members collected more than 30,000 mosquitoes before and after a planned large-scale removal of Amur honeysuckle plants.
The researchers found that clearing the invasive species from the natural ecosystem reduces the abundance of both disease-transmitting and nondisease-transmitting mosquitoes that are known to bite humans.
While more investigation is needed to pinpoint biological processes at play for this reduction in mosquito abundance, the team can shed light on a few dynamics:
First, the removal of honeysuckle coincided with reductions in the number and variety of birds in the forested spaces. Without as many birds to provide blood meals to young mosquitoes, many do not survive to bite human hosts. Second, the honeysuckle supports a local, high-moisture microclimate beneficial to mosquitos’ health. Once removed, fewer mosquitoes seemed to live long enough in their lifecycle to become disease carriers.
The paper was published by Allan; former Entomology Ph.D. student Allison Gardner, now an Assistant Professor at the University of Maine; team member Juma Muturi, former Director of Medical Entomology at the Illinois Natural History Survey and now Research Scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Leah D. Overmier, an Entomology student.
The authors wrote: “These results add to a growing body of literature which suggests that the ecosystem services provided by native plants — and the benefits of management of invasive species—may extend beyond oft-considered factors such as nutrient cycling, prevention of stream erosion, air filtration, and preservation of wildlife diversity to include direct ramifications for entomological risk of exposure to vector-borne pathogens.”
Principal Investigator Brian Allan reports that the second year for this iSEE-funded project has been highly productive in several major areas.
- “We have successfully integrated the mosquito control, hydrological modeling, and cyberGIS experts on our team in an ambitious project to forecast for the continental U.S. what will be the extent of the adoption of green stormwater infrastructure and what likely will be the impact of the widespread adoption of green infrastructural practices for mosquito control,” Allan said. The team has solved a number of challenges related to this task, including:
- the assembly of several very large data sets using “big data” approaches; and
- the development of novel quantitative methods for estimating variation in runoff due to stormwater practices.
- Stormwater and Mosquito Control team members are preparing their first publication from this large-scale undertaking.
- The arrival of Zika virus in the Americas created research opportunities directly relevant to the efforts of this research theme. “We have started a research program using ‘social sensing’ (i.e., the use of geo-located social media activity data) to model networks of human movements and contacts to recreate the pattern of spread of Zika virus in the Americas and apply this to future outbreaks,” Allan said.
- The research findings to date have motivated several additional field and laboratory studies, including surveys of green and conventional stormwater infrastructure in Illinois to explore the consequences of the adoption of green technologies for mosquito control and the impact of the stormwater environment on the assembly of the mosquito microbiome. “These additional efforts in part form the Ph.D. research of several graduate students affiliated with our project, including Elijah Juma, Chris Holmes, and Allison Parker,” Allan said.
The previous year has generated a tremendous amount of activity. According to Allan, three major areas of progress stand out:
- “Our primary area of activity has been to unite the mosquito control, hydrological modeling, and cyberGIS experts on our team in an ambitious project to forecast for the continental U.S. a) what will be the extent of the adoption of green stormwater infrastructure based on state and municipal regulations combined with local hydrology and soil characteristics, and b) what is the likely impact of the widespread adoption of green infrastructural practices for mosquito control based on the known biology of local vector mosquito species.”
- The arrival of Zika virus in the Americas has created several funding opportunities directly relevant to the efforts of this project, including a synthesis of the team’s empirical research into the stormwater environment and employing cyberGIS to use large data sets and project forecasts of disease risk and movements across landscapes.
- “Our findings to date have motivated several additional field and laboratory studies, including surveys of green and conventional stormwater infrastructure here in Illinois to better understand the consequences of the adoption of green technologies for mosquito control.”
Principal Investigator and co-PIs
- Brian Allan, Associate Professor of Entomology (in group photo at right). His departmental page. His lab page.
- Carla Cáceres, Professor of Animal Biology and Director of the School of Integrative Biology (in group photo). Her departmental page. Her lab page.
- Allison Hansen, Assistant Professor of Entomology (in group photo). Her departmental page. Her lab page.
- Juma Muturi, former Director of Medical Entomology at the Illinois Natural History Survey, now Research Scientist at USDA (in group photo). His USDA Agricultural Research Service page.
- Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz, Clinical Associate Professor of Pathobiology (in group photo). Her departmental page. Her lab page.
- Arthur Schmidt, Research Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering (right). His departmental page. His lab page.
- Shaowen Wang, Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science (in group photo). His departmental page. His Department of Urban & Regional Planning page. His School of Earth, Society, and the Environment (SESE) page. His National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) page. His lab page.
Operating team: Faculty, Scientists, Postdocs, and Students (all in group photo)
- Derek Wildman, Professor of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. His departmental page. His lab page. His ResearchGate page.
- Anand Padmanabhan, Senior Research Scientist in the CyberInfrastructure and Geospatial Information Laboratory. His lab page. His NCSA page. His CyberGIS page.
- Aiman Soliman, Postdoctoral Researcher in Supercomputing Applications. His NCSA page.
- Andrew Mackay, Postdoctoral Researcher in Entomology. His ResearchGate page. His Allan Lab page. Read more about Andrew and his work >>>
- Chris Holmes, Ph.D. Candidate in Animal Biology. His webpage. His Cáceres lab page.
- Surendra Karki, Ph.D. Candidate in Pathobiology. His ResearchGate page. His Lavey Rosencranz Research Award Winner page.
- Do Hyup Kim, Ph.D. Candidate in Entomology. His Hansen Lab page.
- Allison Parker, Ph.D. Candidate in Entomology. Her Allan Lab page. More about Allison and her work >>>
- Elijah Juma, M.S. Candidate in Entomology. His ResearchGate page. Read more about Elijah and his work >>>
Former team members:
- Allison Gardner (Ph.D. in Entomology ’16; now faculty at University of Maine). Read more about Allison and her work >>>
- Catherine Wangen, former Academic Hourly Researcher in Entomology.
Publications & Presentations
(iSEE project members’ names in bold):
- Publication: “Large-scale Removal of Invasive Honeysuckle Decreases Mosquito and Avian Host Abundance.” Gardner, A.M.; Muturi, E.J.; Overmier, L.D.; Allan, B.F. EcoHealth August 2017 1-12
- Presentation: “Exploitation of Ecological Traps for Larval Control of Culex pipiens.” Gardner, A.; Muturi, J.; Allan, B.F. American Mosquito Control Association annual meeting, San Diego, CA, February 2017.
- Presentation: “Direct and Indirect Effects of Native and Invasive Plants on Mosquito Ecology.” Gardner, A.; Muturi, J.; Allan, B.F. Northeastern Mosquito Control Association annual meeting, North Falmouth, MA, December 2016.
- Presentation: “Adapting the NRCS Curve Number Method to Estimate Urban Runoff across the U.S.” Juma, E.O.; Allan, B.F.; Mackay, A.J.; Padmanbhan, A.; Schmidt, A.; Soliman, A.; Wang, S. 2016 GIS Day Conference, Champaign, IL, November 2016.
- Presentation: “Contrasting Green Infrastructure Adoption at the Public and Homeowner Scales: Potential Risks and Benefits to Managing Mosquito-borne Disease Risk.” Mackay, A.J.; Wangen, C.E.; Allan, B.F. 2016 Illinois Green Infrastructure Conference, Champaign, IL, September 2016.
- Presentation: “Direct and Indirect Effects of Native and Invasive Plants on Mosquito Ecology.” Gardner, A.; Muturi, J.; Allan, B.F. Ecological Society of America annual meeting, Fort Lauderdale, FL, August 2016.
- Publication: “Effect of Trapping Methods, Weather, and Landscape on Estimates of the Culex Vector Mosquito Abundance.” Karki, S.; Hamer, G.L.; Anderson, T.K.; Goldberg, T.L.; Kitron, U.D.; Krebs, B.L.; Walker, E.D.; Ruiz, M.O. Environmental Health Insights 2016:10 93-103
- Presentation: “Potential impacts to mosquito-borne disease risk in urban landscapes from the adoption of ‘green’ storm water management practices.” Mackay, A.J.; Juma, E.O.; Wangen, C.E.; Allan, B.F. Illinois Water Day, Urbana, IL, April 2016.
- Presentation: “Leaf detritus of native and invasive plants alters microbial resource diversity in aquatic habitats and performance of container-breeding mosquitoes.” Gardner, A.; Allan, B.; Duple, J.; Malik, N.; Muturi, J. Ecological Society of America annual meeting, Baltimore, MD, August 2015.
- Presentation: “Discovery of a naturally-occurring ecological trap and implementation for attract-and-kill mosquito control.” Gardner, A.; Muturi, J.; Allan, B. Entomological Society of America annual meeting, Minneapolis, MN, November 2015.
- Presentation: “Eradication of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) alters mosquito abundance and distribution.” Gardner, A.; Allan, B.; Muturi, J. Illinois Mosquito and Vector Control Association annual meeting, Champaign, IL, November 2015.
- Presentation: “Exploitation of ecological traps for mosquito control.” Gardner, A.; Allan, B.; Duple, J.; Malik, N.; Muturi, J. Illinois Water Day, Champaign, IL, April 2016.
- Presentation: “Leaf detritus alters bacterial resource composition in aquatic habitats and production of container-breeding mosquitoes.” Gardner, A.; Overmier, L.; Muturi, J.; Allan, B. IGB Fellows Symposium, Champaign, IL, May 2016.
- Presentation: “Effect of trapping mathods, weather and landscape on estimates of the Culex vector mosquito abundance.” Karki S.; Hamer G.L.; Anderson T.K.; Goldberg T.L.; Kitron U.D; Krebs B.L.; Walker, E.D.; Ruiz M.O. Veterinary Research Day, Urbana, IL, April 2016.