Chagas disease vector control and Taylor's law

Cohen, Joel E.; Rodriguez-Planes, Lucia I.; Gaspe, Maria S.; Cecere, María C.; Cardinal, Marta V.; Gürtler, Ricardo E.

Large spatial and temporal fluctuations in the population density of living organisms have profound consequences for biodiversity conservation, food production, pest control and disease control, especially vector-borne disease control. Chagas disease vector control based on insecticide spraying could benefit from improved concepts and methods to deal with spatial variations in vector population density.

Methodology/Principal findings:
We show that Taylor's law (TL) of fluctuation scaling describes accurately the mean and variance over space of relative abundance, by habitat, of four insect vectors of Chagas disease (Triatoma infestans, Triatoma guasayana, Triatoma garciabesi and Triatoma sordida) in 33,908 searches of people's dwellings and associated habitats in 79 field surveys in four districts in the Argentine Chaco region, before and after insecticide spraying. As TL predicts, the logarithm of the sample variance of bug relative abundance closely approximates a linear function of the logarithm of the sample mean of abundance in different habitats. Slopes of TL indicate spatial aggregation or variation in habitat suitability. Predictions of new mathematical models of the effect of vector control measures on TL agree overall with field data before and after community-wide spraying of insecticide.

A spatial Taylor's law identifies key habitats with high average infestation and spatially highly variable infestation, providing a new instrument for the control and elimination of the vectors of a major human disease.


Also Published In

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Published Here
February 15, 2018