We studied the aquatic mosquito habitats in and around enzootic foci of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis virus (VEE) in western Venezuela. Specimens were sampled for 5 mo in three types of vegetation: tall lowland tropical forests, short inundated/secondary growth forests, and pastures/herbaceous vegetation around forests. Ground pools, flooded pastures, swamps, ponds, and canals predominated. We used a multivariate statistical approach to quantitatively assess the relationships of mosquito species with broad categories of the landscape, and with environmental variables within each aquatic habitat. Twenty-four mosquito species in the genera Aedes, Psorophora, Culex, Mansonia, and Uranotaenia were collected. Species richness was higher in the tall forests than in other types of vegetation. Discriminant Function Analysis showed a strong association between landscape category and mosquito species assemblage and identified Culex erraticus Dyar & Knab and Mansonia titillans Walker as indicator species of open areas, and Aedes serratus Theobald as an indicator of tall forests. M. titillans, Uranotaenia geometrica Theobald, Cx. erraticus, and Culex dunni Dyar were associated with unshaded, warm, vegetated waters in flooded pastures and swamps, whereas Ae. serratus, Aedes fulvus (Wiedemann), Psorophora albipes Theobald, Psorophora ferox (Humboldt), Culex caudelli Dyar & Knab, and Culex pedroi Sirivanakarn & Belkin were associated with small, shaded ground pools within the tall forests. Culex coronator Dyar & Knab was associated with partially exposed sites within short forests. These results allowed us to interpret better our previous studies on mosquito adult spread in the study area and their possible role as VEEV disseminators.
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