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Journal Article

A dynamically structured matrix population model for insect life histories observed under variable environmental conditions


Lelieveld,  Jos
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Erguler, K., Mendel, J., Petric, D. V., Petric, M., Kavran, M., Demirok, M. C., et al. (2022). A dynamically structured matrix population model for insect life histories observed under variable environmental conditions. Scientific Reports, 12(1): 11587. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-15806-2.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-125E-8
Various environmental drivers influence life processes of insect vectors that transmit human disease. Life histories observed under experimental conditions can reveal such complex links; however, designing informative experiments for insects is challenging. Furthermore, inferences obtained under controlled conditions often extrapolate poorly to field conditions. Here, we introduce a pseudo-stage-structured population dynamics model to describe insect development as a renewal process with variable rates. The model permits representing realistic life stage durations under constant and variable environmental conditions. Using the model, we demonstrate how random environmental variations result in fluctuating development rates and affect stage duration. We apply the model to infer environmental dependencies from the life history observations of two common disease vectors, the southern (Culex quinquefasciatus) and northern (Culex pipiens) house mosquito. We identify photoperiod, in addition to temperature, as pivotal in regulating larva stage duration, and find that carefully timed life history observations under semi-field conditions accurately predict insect development throughout the year. The approach we describe augments existing methods of life table design and analysis, and contributes to the development of large-scale climate- and environment-driven population dynamics models for important disease vectors.