New Hampshire  – A new study done at Dartmouth College showed that migrating mosquitoes will be able to survive in the Arctic region if the temperature increases 2 degrees Centigrade due to Global Warming.

In the Arctic region, the temperatures have raised twice as much as the worldwide rate, expecting to be 2.6-2.8 Celsius higher by 2080-2100, as stated by the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If they continue to increase, mosquitoes will have more than 50% chance to survive.

The population of mosquitoes that live in the Arctic region breed and develop around May inside shallow bodies of water that protects them temporally against the beetles, which are their main predators. Once mosquitoes hit adulthood, they are less likely to be eaten.

Entomologists in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment have developed a new control method for the Asian tiger mosquito. Credit: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

The study, conducted in Western Greenland between 2011 and 2012,  examined the way temperature changes could affect the ability of migrating mosquitoes to survive to adulthood. The warmer the temperature, the more chance they had to do so, for mosquitoes develop quickly in warmer weather and reach adulthood before being eaten by the beetles as larvae.

“Temperature has such a strong effect on almost all biological systems. We don’t know as much about the Arctic as other ecosystems. But given the Arctic is changing so rapidly, having a baseline data set is going to be really important for anticipating future changes. We can learn a lot about ecological theories from studying these mosquitoes but we can also begin to anticipate impacts on human systems,” said Lauren Culler, lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth’s Dickey Center Institute of Arctic Studies, in a press release.

Reasons why this matter

The findings need to be taken into account  seeing that, if migrating mosquitoes survive to adulthood, researchers believe they would be able to change its flight patterns and bring in more diseases like malaria, yellow fever or dengue.

Moreover, they could affect animals like the caribou because they would be alive during calving season. Newborn caribous are very vulnerable to mosquito bite. One bite could lead to disease or death.

“Increased mosquito abundance, in addition to northward range expansions of additional pest species, will have negative consequences for the health and reproduction of caribou,” said Culler. “Warming in the Arctic can thus challenge the sustainability of wild caribou and managed reindeer in Fennoscandia (Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of northwest Russia), which are an important subsistence resource for local communities.”

Lastly, mosquitoes could affect pollination of plants in the tundra and reduce the food migrating birds eat, for they would start feeding on it.

Source: Dartmouth College