Plants play an important role in the lifecycle of the malaria vector mosquitoes throughout the world but this relationship is not very well understood. Mosquitoes dependent on plants to provide breeding habitats, to provide nectar food sources, and shaded resting sites during the day when mosquitoes are not active. The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of plant-mosquito interactions by providing information of which plants malaria vector mosquitoes depend upon and identifying vegetation characteristics that may help us to develop better models of mosquito distributions. These models will allow for better risk detection of the spread of malaria.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew have extensive collections of plants specimens from tropical areas around the world. These collections will provide information on the extent and distribution of plant species that the malaria vector mosquito species depend upon for survival. As well as serving as indicators for the presence of mosquitoes these plants will potentially assist in better resource allocation for managing vector mosquitoes.
Through satellite image analysis, we will also be able to determine key parameters of the vegetation, such as structure, above-ground biomass and primary productivity, within the vector mosquito’s habitat. Using high resolution satellite imagery (such as Landsat), we will be able to map these vegetation parameters across broad-scales (regionally or globally). Satellite imagery is being collected and made available days after collection allowing for faster mapping that can provide near real-time mapping and modelling of vector species distribution.