Since 1988 malaria epidemics have occurred in multiple sites in western Kenya highlands. Climatic variability has been associated with some of the recent epidemics. We examined influences of climatic factors on the distribution and abundance of three malaria vector species, Anopheles gambiae, Anopheles arabiensis, and Anopheles funestus in western Kenya and in the Great Rift Valley. Mosquito samples were collected from the lowland and highland areas with various climatic conditions. The three vector species were abundant in the lower part of western Kenya. An. arabiensis was not found in the areas above 1,400 m elevation in western Kenya. Although An. gambiae and An. funestus were found in the sites above 1,700 m in western Kenya, their densities were <1 per house. In the Great Rift Valley, An. gambiae was not recorded. An. funestus was more widely distributed than the other two species. A stepwise multiple regression analysis found that moisture index was the most important variable in shaping species composition of the An. gambiae complex. Relative abundance of An. gambiae was positively associated with moisture index, suggesting that An. gambiae is more adapted to moist climate. Seasonal differences in species composition were significant in western Kenya, and the proportion of An. funestus was higher in the dry season than the rainy season. Influence of temperature on vector density was significant for all three species. These results imply that climate changes alter the distribution and abundance of malaria vectors in future.
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Vol. 39 • No. 6