A study conducted by researchers at the Dartmouth University has revealed that increasing temperatures are allowing Arctic mosquitoes to grow more rapidly and surface earlier.
Researchers have predicted that if the Arctic temperatures rise to 2°C, mosquitoes’ chances of surviving and surfacing as adults will be increasing by over 50%. These findings are significant as changes in the intensity and timing of mosquitoes’ emergence have a strong impact on their role as pollinators of the tundra plants, swarming pests of wildlife and mankind and food for different species like migratory and Arctic birds.
According to the researchers, the climate-population model developed by them for the Arctic mosquitoes and their predators is also applicable for any other ecosystem where survival is linked to the creatures’ sensitivities towards altering temperatures.
Climate change is resulting in an increase in global temperatures. This temperature rise is significantly influencing the physiology of insects, their growth rates as well as their survival. The rise in temperature is also influencing insects’ ability of eluding predators. The past 100 years have seen average temperatures of the Arctic increase at two times the global rate.
Arctic ecosystem’s low biodiversity offers a simple prey-predator interaction for this Dartmouth University study. Arctic mosquitoes grow in shallow ponds that are usually temporary structures formed due to springtime snowmelts on the tundra. The main predators of these mosquitoes are diving beetles.
The researchers conducted lab and field studies for measuring the impact of rising temperatures on development rates and rates of deaths from predation among immature mosquitoes of western Greenland. Based on the findings of those studies, they developed a model for evaluating the effects of temperature on how immature mosquitoes survive to become an adult, biting mosquitoes. In other words, the newly formed model allowed them to predict how temperature rise due to future climate change will affect lifespan and growth of Arctic mosquitoes.
Results of the studies showed that higher spring temperatures allowed the mosquitoes to surface two weeks earlier than their original emergence time and also reduced the time they required for growing into biting adults.
Researchers found that for every 1°C rise in temperature the span of the larval and pupal stages of these insects decreased by 10%. The new model also predicts that the chances of Arctic mosquitoes’ survival will increase by 53% if the temperature of the region reaches 2°C.