Optimal temperature for malaria transmission is dramatically lower than previously predicted

Culex Quinquefasciatus Mosquito On Human Finger Photo Credit: Jim Gathany

Malaria transmission models to date assume constant or linear responses of mosquito and parasite life-history traits to temperature, predicting optimal transmission at 31 °C. These models are at odds with field observations of transmission dating back nearly a century. This study ‘s model, which includes empirically derived nonlinear thermal responses, predicts optimal malaria transmission at 25 °C (6 °C lower than previous models). Moreover, the model predicts that transmission decreases dramatically at temperatures > 28 °C, altering predictions about how climate change will affect malaria. Using these more accurate nonlinear thermal-response models will aid in understanding the effects of current and future temperature regimes on disease transmission.

Optimal temperature for malaria transmission is dramatically lower than previously predicted
Erin A. Mordecai, Krijn P. Paaijmans, Leah R. Johnson, Christian Balzer, Tal Ben-Horin, Emily de Moor, Amy McNally, Samraat Pawar, Sadie J. Ryan, Thomas C. Smith, Kevin D. Lafferty
Ecology Letters, 2012

Following is a sample of the coverage of this study:
New Scientist: Malaria study challenges warmer world predictions
US Geological Survey Press Release: Malaria transmission peaks at much cooler temperatures than previously predicted


More information about this project's research, participants and publications




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Posted on November 2, 2012