Environmental variability has important influences on mosquito life cycles and understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of mosquito populations is critical for mosquito control and vector-borne disease prevention. Meteorological data used for model-based predictions of mosquito abundance and life cycle dynamics are typically acquired from ground-based weather stations; however, data availability and completeness are often limited by sparse networks and resource availability. In contrast, environmental measurements from satellite remote sensing are more spatially continuous and can be retrieved automatically. This study compared environmental measurements from the NASA Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer on EOS (AMSR-E) and in situ weather station data to examine their ability to predict the abundance of two important mosquito species (Aedes vexans and Culex tarsalis) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA from 2005 to 2010. The AMSR-E land parameters included daily surface water inundation fraction, surface air temperature, soil moisture, and microwave vegetation opacity. The AMSR-E derived models had better fits and higher forecasting accuracy than models based on weather station data despite the relatively coarse (25-km) spatial resolution of the satellite data. In the AMSR-E models, air temperature and surface water fraction were the best predictors of Aedes vexans, whereas air temperature and vegetation opacity were the best predictors of Cx. tarsalis abundance. The models were used to extrapolate spatial, seasonal, and interannual patterns of climatic suitability for mosquitoes across eastern South Dakota. Our findings demonstrate that environmental metrics derived from satellite passive microwave radiometry are suitable for predicting mosquito population dynamics and can potentially improve the effectiveness of mosquito-borne disease early warning systems.
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