Previous studies have identified several anopheline species integral to the transmission of malaria in Belize. The highly efficient vector, Anopheles darlingi Root, is currently considered the most important. The preferred larval habitat of An. darlingi has been described as floating detritus patches, which are commonly associated with overhanging spiny bamboo, Guadua longifolia (E. Fourn.), along river margins. The objectives of this study were to use remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) tools to 1) define the landscape features (i.e., river curvature, land cover, and house locations) associated with An. darlingi-positive breeding habitats and 2) determine the association between cleared land cover and the growth of spiny bamboo. A systematic survey was conducted in which all detritus patches of at least 1 m2 were sampled, mapped using GPS, and characterized by cause of habitat lodging. Bamboo stretches growing along the river margins also were mapped. Spatial analyses of satellite imagery found no associations between river characteristics or land cover with positive An. darlingi habitats. In addition, there was no significant difference in cleared versus forested land cover in relation to the presence or absence of bamboo. Results indicate that the average distance from homes to negative habitats was significantly greater than from positive detritus mats. Based on the land cover and river characteristics used, our results do not support the use of remote sensing as a predictive tool to locate specific areas within rivers positive for An. darlingi habitats.
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Vol. 43 • No. 2