Mosquito biodiversity and mosquito-borne viruses in the United Arab Emirates
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Background: In the last 50 years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has experienced rapid population growth and urbanization. Urbanization is known to influence biodiversity, and there appears to be a link between the emergence of arboviruses and urban growth. Very little is known about the UAE mosquito species richness and dominant vectors. We performed a mosquito survey comparing periurban sites in Dubai and Al Ain to a protected, natural site in Fujairah emirate. We measured mosquito biodiversity and species composition, and screened mosquito pools for common arboviruses to measure arbovirus activity in the region. Results: We report ten species of mosquitoes from the UAE, with highest species diversity in the natural site, a protected wadi near the eastern coast. The predominant mosquito was Culex perexiguus, and was associated with periurban habitats. The site with lowest mosquito species diversity but relatively high species richness was the periurban site of Al Ain Zoo, where we identified Bagaza virus and Barkedji virus, two flaviviruses, in pools of Cx. perexiguus. Conclusions: Decreased mosquito biodiversity was associated with increased levels of urbanization. The predominance of two species at periurban sites was related to the availability of their larval habitats. Arboviruses were associated with the presence of a single predominant mosquito species, Cx. perexiguus.