Investigating the Interconnectedness of Climate Change, Nuisance Mosquitos, and Resilience of Coastal Salt Marsh Systems

  • New Jersey marsh and coastal community

    New Jersey marsh and coastal community

  • Veg board

    Veg board

The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve recently convened two roundtables of mosquito control agencies to examine the intersection of sea level rise, salt marsh structure, habitat modification and restoration, and nuisance mosquito populations. A chief concern that emerged from discussions is how climate change and sea level rise may affect marsh habitats, subsequently increasing mosquito production. Also of concern is how past physical alterations meant to reduce mosquito habitat affect the ability of salt marshes to maintain their relative elevation, and, as a result, their long-term resiliency in the face of sea level rise. Recognizing the valuable role that salt marshes play in buffering coastal communities, coastal decision-makers are increasingly advocating for the restoration of salt marshes. While the thin-layer application of dredge spoil is of increasing interest as a way to help marshes keep up with rising sea levels, it could also greatly affect mosquito production.

In this project, mosquito control agencies and other land management partners are working together to design and implement a marsh research program that informs future mosquito control management actions. This includes characterizing the marsh landscape using field surveys and remote sensing, identifying salt marsh mosquito population hotspots and disease risk using environmental DNA (eDNA) tools, and developing a restoration case study at a site that has undergone thin-layer application.