Defining the larval habitat: abiotic and biotic parameters associated with Anopheles farauti productivity

Malar J. 2019 Dec 11;18(1):416. doi: 10.1186/s12936-019-3049-7.


Background: In the Solomon Island, the dominant malaria vector, Anopheles farauti, is highly anthropophagic and increasingly exophilic and early biting. While long-lasting insecticide-treated nets remain effective against An. farauti, supplemental vector control strategies will be needed to achieve malaria elimination. Presently, the only World Health Organization recommended supplemental vector control strategy is larval source management (LSM). Effective targeted larval source management requires understanding the associations between abiotic, chemical and biological parameters of larval habitats with the presence or density of vector larvae.

Methods: Potential and actual An. farauti larval habitats were characterized for presence and density of larvae and associated abiotic, chemical and biological parameters.

Results: A third of all sampled potential habitats harboured An. farauti larvae with 80% of An. farauti positive habitats being in three habitat classifications (swamps/lagoons, transient pools and man-made holes). Large swamps were the most abundant positive habitats surveyed (43% of all An. farauti positive habitats). Habitats with An. farauti larvae were significantly associated with abiotic (pH, nitrate, ammonia and phosphate concentrations and elevated temperature) and biotic (predators) parameters.

Conclusion: Large swamps and lagoons are the largest and most abundant An. farauti habitats in the Solomon Islands. Positive habitats were more frequently associated with the presence of predators (vertebrates and invertebrates) and higher water temperatures. Cohabitation with predators is indicative of a complex habitat ecosystem and raises questions about the potential of biological control as an effective control strategy. Increased presence of An. farauti with higher water temperature suggests a potential explanation for the coastal distribution of this species which is not found inland at elevated altitudes where temperatures would be cooler.

Keywords: Anopheles farauti; Anopheles hinesorum; Anopheles lungae; Density; Elimination; Malaria; Receptivity; Solomon Islands; Wing length.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anopheles / growth & development*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Larva / growth & development*
  • Melanesia
  • Mosquito Vectors / growth & development*
  • Population Density
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Wetlands