Recent research being done at Dartmouth College shows that migrating mosquitoes could start invading the Arctic region and have twice as much of a chance to survive if global warming causes the area temperature to rise 2 degrees Centigrade (35.6 F).
Climate Change Could Allow More Mosquitoes to Survive to Adulthood
Over the past century, the temperatures in the Arctic region have gone up twice as much as the worldwide rate. Currently, the mosquitoes that live in the Arctic breed and develop in the spring inside shallow bodies of water that are only available temporarily. During that timeframe, the top predator for these mosquitoes is the diving beetle.
The study used mosquito populations in Greenland and created a model to determine the way temperature changes affected the ability of migrating mosquitoes to survive to adulthood based on possible temperature changes in the Arctic.
It showed that the warmer temperatures were a good thing for both the breeding mosquitoes and for the diving beetle. However, even though the beetles were able to kill more mosquitoes, the mosquito population still increased because they developed quicker in warmer weather and so more survived to adults and weren’t eaten by the beetles as larvae.
The study suggests to researchers that migrating mosquitoes could change their flight patterns and more could end up in the Arctic area if global warming causes the temperatures there to rise high enough. It is meant to show the effects of climate change on areas like the Arctic where extreme weather conditions occur.
More Migrating Mosquitoes Could Mean Less Caribou
For instance, it is possible that if there are more mosquitoes that live to adulthood, it could affect things like the caribou herds and could bring in more mosquito carried diseases like malaria, yellow fever or dengue. It could also affect things like pollination of plants in the tundra and how much food animals such as migrating birds would have available.
Arctic mosquitoes need a blood source to survive, and climate change could allow them to survive and cause great problems for the Arctic caribou, as they would be alive during calving season. The newborn calves would be very vulnerable to the bites of the mosquitoes and could sicken or die if they acquired a mosquito borne disease. Caribou are an important animal to the region so this could also impact the people living there in many ways.
Currently, mosquitoes already live in some Arctic areas like Norway, Finland, Sweden, and in Russia, where they have travelled there as migrating mosquitoes in the past 30 years.