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INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABILITY, ENERGY, AND ENVIRONMENT
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN

Stormwater & mosquito control project

Project Overview

icon-watericon-buildingThe Stormwater and Mosquito Control Project fits into two iSEE research themes: Water & Land Stewardship; and Sustainable Infrastructure.

 

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.”


Project News

Social media is used to track your purchases, national sporting events, and local news … but what about viruses?

Members of the iSEE-supported Stormwater and Mosquito Control project team were recently awarded a portion of a $1,576,788 grant by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology over five years to study just that.

Wang

Allan

Gardner

The project team, led by Allison Gardner, Assistant Professor of Arthropod Vector Biology at the University of Maine, includes University of Illinois researchers Brian Allan, Associate Professor of Entomology, and Shaowen Wang, Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science. The Illinois team will receive $495,139 of the total award. Gardner, incidentally, received her Ph.D. in Entomology at Illinois and served as a member of the Stormwater and Mosquito Control project team before moving on to Maine.

Through the “Coupled Dynamics of Tourism and Mosquito-Borne Disease Transmission in the Americas” study, the team will use a research program they developed that uses “social sensing” to model networks of human movements and contacts to recreate the pattern of the spread of the Zika virus. The patterns found can be applied to future outbreaks.

Early accomplishments on this project include discovering a new quantitative method for estimating the shift from travel associated with local transmission of Zika virus, and the application of this to understanding the spread of Zika through a network model using high-resolution epidemiological data from Columbia.

This study expands on the extensive research the iSEE Stormwater and Mosquito project has been working on, including two recent publications on invasive vegetation and green infrastructure modeling.

The previous year has generated a tremendous amount of activity. According to Allan, three major areas of progress stand out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. “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.”
  2. 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.
  3. “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 Brian Allan reports on the third year for this iSEE-funded project:

 

 

  • “We have made substantial progress 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. As part of this effort we have created a novel quantitative method for estimating variation in runoff due to stormwater practices, an analytical approach we refer to as a ‘composite curve number’, which will greatly alleviate the data burden for estimation of stormwater runoff volume. We have prepared a manuscript from this undertaking that is close to submission.”
  • Additionally, the team developed a novel method for estimating the distribution of “built up” area in urban ecosystems using remotely sensed data, and the manuscript describing this new method was recently accepted for publication (see article in previous tab).
  • Stormwater and Mosquito Control team members 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. Early accomplishments from the team’s research include a new quantitative method for estimating the shift from travel-associated to local transmission of Zika virus, and the application of this to understanding the spread of Zika through a network model using high-resolution epidemiological data from Columbia.
  • “Several of our field-based projects into the effects of stormwater management practices on mosquito-borne disease risk have matured, and we have recently submitted a manuscript from research led by Allison Gardner on the use of native vegetation as an ecological trap for mosquito control.”
  • The team is close to submission for one of the most important manuscripts from research led by Andrew Mackay into the effects of green stormwater infrastructure on mosquito populations from a study performed in Aurora, Ill.
  • “Finally, our findings to date have motivated several additional field and laboratory studies, including surveys of green and conventional stormwater infrastructure here 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, the latter of whom has submitted the first manuscript from her research.”

Cáceres

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.”

Read the full article in EcoHealth >>>

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.

A view of Baltimore, one of 12 urban communities whose building coverage datasets were used in the study.

Planning out green infrastructure — including stormwater management projects — would improve with more precise digital mapping according to a paper published in Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems in June 2018 by PI Brian Allan and other members of his team.

Current mapping systems do not accurately account for building coverage (the actual land area covered by a building structure) without including parking lots, roads, pavement, etc. Allan’s team set out to find and develop a more accurate model of building coverage. Using data from 12 different urban communities, the team developed the first estimates in modeling building coverage throughout the U.S.

By understanding actual building coverage, city planners and policy makers will have better tools to implement sustainable practices (such as solar energy, green roofs, and rainwater collection) in their communities.

The paper was published by Allan, an Associate Professor of Entomology at Illinois, and other Stormwater and Mosquito Control team members: Aiman Soliman, an Entomology Research Associate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications; Andrew Mackay, Associate Scientist/Vector Ecologist in the Illinois Natural History Survey; Arthur Schmidt, Research Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Shaowen Wang, Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science. It documents part of their ongoing efforts to understand how the adoption of green infrastructure for stormwater management may impact mosquito-borne disease risk.

The authors wrote: “The current model provides a first step to mapping the geographic distribution of building coverage for the contiguous U.S., but future work could expand the capabilities and accuracy of the current model. We expect that the output dataset will support the effort to evaluate green infrastructure projects, especially at the national scale. Some promising applications include estimating the potential for rainwater harvesting and solar energy collection, in addition to different environmental studies that investigate the relationships between urban physical infrastructure and local climate (e.g. urban heat effect), etc., which could be an invaluable resource for assessments of the potential for certain urban sustainability practices (e.g. green roofs, solar energy harvesters).”

Read the full article >>>


The Team

Members of the Stormwater & Mosquito Control team include (from left): First row: Carla Caceres, Marilyn O'Hara Ruiz, Allison Gardner Second row: Allison Hansen, Ephantus Muturi, Brian Allan Third row: Derek Wildman, Elijah Juma, Shaowen Wang Fourth row: Catherine Wangen, Do Hyup Kim, Surendra Karki Fifth row: Aiman Soliman, Andrew Mackay, Anand Padmanabhan

Members of the Stormwater & Mosquito Control team include (from left):
First row: Carla Caceres, Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz, Allison Gardner
Second row: Allison Hansen, Ephantus Muturi, Brian Allan
Third row: Derek Wildman, Elijah Juma, Shaowen Wang
Fourth row: Catherine Wangen, Do Hyup Kim, Surendra Karki
Fifth row: Aiman Soliman, Andrew Mackay, Anand Padmanabhan

Principal Investigator and co-PIs

 

 

Operating team: Faculty, Scientists, Postdocs, and Students (all in group photo)

 

 

Former team members:

  • Allison Hansen, (former Assistant Professor of Entomology at Illinois; now Assistant Professor of Entomology at University of California at Riverside) (in group photo).
  • Allison Gardner (Ph.D. in Entomology ’16; now Assistant Professor of Arthropod Vector Biology at University of Maine) (in group photo). Read more about Allison and her work as a Ph.D. Candidate in Allan’s lab >>>
  • Catherine Wangen, former Academic Hourly Researcher in Entomology.

Publications & Presentations

(iSEE project members’ names in bold):

  • Publication: “Quantifying the Geographic Distribution of Building Coverage across the U.S. for Urban Sustainability Studies.” Soliman, A.; Mackay, A.; Schmidt, A.; Allan, B.F.; Wang, S. Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (June 2018)
  • Presentation: “Ecological and Socioeconomic Perspectives on Risk of Juvenile Mosquitoes in Container Habitats.” Parker, A.; Gardner, A.Allan, B.F. Entomological Society of America Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, November 2017.
  • Presentation: “Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Infectious Disease Dynamics.” Allan, B.F. iSEE Congress 2017: Building Resilience to Climate Change, Urbana, IL, September 2017.
  • 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)
  • 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.