Farms, pastures and woodlands: the fine-scale distribution of PalearcticCulicoidesspp. biting midges along an agro-ecological gradient

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Abstract

The spatial epidemiology of Bluetongue virus (BTV) at the landscape level relates to the fine-scale distribution and dispersal capacities of its vectors, midges belonging to the genus Culicoides Latreille (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae). Although many previous researches have carried out Culicoides sampling on farms, little is known of the fine-scale distribution of Culicoides in the landscape immediately surrounding farms. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of Culicoides populations at increasing distances from typical dairy farms in north-west Europe, through the use of eight Onderstepoort-type black-light traps positioned along linear transects departing from farms, going through pastures and entering woodlands. A total of 16 902 Culicoides were collected in autumn 2008 and spring 2009. The majority were females, of which more than 97% were recognized as potential vectors. In pastures, we found decreasing numbers of female Culicoides as a function of the distance to the farm. This pattern was modelled by leptokurtic models, with parameters depending on season and species. By contrast, the low number of male Culicoides caught were homogeneously distributed along the transects. When transects entered woodlands, we found a higher abundance of Culicoides than expected considering the distance of the sampling sites to the farm, although this varied according to species.

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