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Field evaluation of seasonal trends in relative population sizes and dispersal pattern of Aedes albopictus males in support of the design of a sterile male release strategy

Le Goff, Gilbert, Damiens, David, Ruttee, Abdoul-Hamid, Payet, Laurent, Lebon, Cyrille, Dehecq, Jean-Sébastien, Gouagna, Louis-Clément
Parasites & vectors 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 81
Aedes albopictus, data collection, laboratory rearing, longevity, male sterility, males, mark-recapture studies, population density, population dynamics, population size, probability, seasonal variation, species abundance, sterile insect technique, traps, Reunion
BACKGROUND: To develop an efficient sterile insect technique (SIT) programme, the number of sterile males to release, along with the spatial and temporal pattern of their release, has to be determined. Such parameters could be estimated from a reliable estimation of the wild population density (and its temporal variation) in the area to treat. Here, a series of mark-release-recapture experiments using laboratory-reared and field-derived Aedes albopictus males were carried out in Duparc, a selected pilot site for the future application of SIT in the north of La Reunion Island. METHODS: The dispersal, longevity of marked males and seasonal fluctuations in the population size of native mosquitoes were determined from the ratio of marked to unmarked males caught in mice-baited BG-Sentinel traps. The study was conducted during periods of declining population abundance (April), lowest abundance (September) and highest abundance (December). RESULTS: According to data collected in the first 4 days post-release, the Lincoln index estimated population size as quite variable, ranging from 5817 in April, to 639 in September and 5915 in December. Calculations of daily survival probability to 4 days after release for field and laboratory males were 0.91 and 0.98 in April, respectively, and 0.88 and 0.84 in September, respectively. The mean distance travelled (MDT) of released field males were 46 m, 67 m and 37 m for December, April and September experiments, respectively. For released laboratory males, the MDT was 65 m and 42 m in April and September, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Theoretically, the most efficient release programme should be started in July/August when the mosquito population size is the lowest (c.600 wild males/ha relative to 5000 wild males estimated for December and April), with a weekly release of 6000 males/ha. The limited dispersal of Ae. albopictus males highlights the nessecity for the widespread release of sterile males over multiple sites and in a field setting to avoid topographical barriers and anthropogenic features that may block the migration of the released sterile male mosquitoes.