The spread of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus Skuse, throughout the United States has implications for the transmission potential of vector-borne diseases. We used a 30-yr data set of occurrence records in Illinois and developed a hierarchical Bayesian model to shed light on the patterns and processes involved in the introduction and expansion along the northern edge of the geographic range of this species. We also collected specimens from 10 locations and sequenced a segment of their mitochondrial COI genes to assess possible introduction sources and geographic patterns in genetic variation present within contemporary populations. We documented an increase in the number of observations throughout the southern and central parts of Illinois over the study period. The process through which this spread occurred is likely only partially due to local dispersal. The probability of successfully overwintering was likewise low, but both these parameters increased over the study period. This suggests that the presence of Ae. albopictus has been largely due to repeated introductions, but that in recent years populations may have become established and are leading to an increase in locally driven dispersal. There was considerable genetic diversity among populations in Illinois, with 13 distinct haplotypes present in 10 sampling locations, several of which matched haplotypes previously found to be present in locations such as Texas or Japan. Further research is needed to understand how the combination of continued propagule pressure and establishment of populations are driving the increase and expansion of this invasive mosquito along its northern distribution limit.
Keywords: Asian tiger mosquito; haplotype; hierarchical Bayesian model; invasion biology; mitochondrial DNA.
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