We present a population model to understand the effects of temperature and rainfall on the population dynamics of the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus Say, along an elevational gradient in Hawaii. We use a novel approach to model the effects of temperature on population growth by dynamically incorporating developmental rate into the transition matrix, by using physiological ages of immatures instead of chronological age or stages. We also model the effects of rainfall on survival of immatures as the cumulative number of days below a certain rain threshold. Finally, we incorporate density dependence into the model as competition between immatures within breeding sites. Our model predicts the upper altitudinal distributions of Cx. quinquefasciatus on the Big Island of Hawaii for self-sustaining mosquito and migrating summer sink populations at 1,475 and 1,715 m above sea level, respectively. Our model predicts that mosquitoes at lower elevations can grow under a broader range of rainfall parameters than middle and high elevation populations. Density dependence in conjunction with the seasonal forcing imposed by temperature and rain creates cycles in the dynamics of the population that peak in the summer and early fall. The model provides a reasonable fit to the available data on mosquito abundance for the east side of Mauna Loa, Hawaii. The predictions of our model indicate the importance of abiotic conditions on mosquito dynamics and have important implications for the management of diseases transmitted by Cx. quinquefasciatus in Hawaii and elsewhere.
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Vol. 41 • No. 6