Investigating the Interconnectedness of Climate Change, Nuisance Mosquito Populations, and Long-term Resilience of Coastal Salt Marsh Systems

2015 Aerial Photography of Marsh

Investigators: Richard G. Lathrop1, Rachael Sacatelli1, Dina Fonseca2, Brian Johnson2, Michael J. Kennish3, Lisa Auermuller4, Scott Crans5

1 Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis, Rutgers University
2 Center for Vector Biology, Rutgers University
3 Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers University
4 Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve
5 State Office of Mosquito Control, NJ Department of Environmental Protection

Completed 2021


The Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve convened a roundtable of mosquito control agencies to examine the intersection between sea level rise, salt marsh structure, habitat modification/ restoration, and nuisance mosquito populations which can pose serious health risks to humans, livestock, and pets. Chief concerns are how climate change and sea level rise may affect marsh habitats and consequent mosquito production but also how past physical alterations to reduce mosquito habitat affect the ability of salt marshes to maintain their relative elevation position and thereby their long term resiliency in the face of sea level rise.

For more information, please visit the NEERS Science Collaborative webpage.


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 sediment/dredge spoil as a means of supplementing vertical accretion processes is receiving widespread interest, it could also affect mosquito production. The inter-connection between thin-layer and other marsh restoration as well as mosquito habitat modification and population control techniques will be examined. Using an adapted mediated modeling collaborative approach, mosquito control agencies and other land management partners (ends users) are participating in the design and implementation of a research program to inform management actions, plans and strategies.

Stakeholder Resources

One of the needs the mosquito control commissions and other stakeholders outlined was a need for more outreach materials. To respond to that need, the project team created a brochure outlining health risks posed by mosquitoes and how climate change might exacerbate those risks, a teaching module for middle/high school educators that covers mosquito risks and the environmental DNA techniques used for the NEERS Science Collaborative Study, and created a number of high-quality graphics that the stakeholders can use in their own outreach materials.Stakeholder Resources

  • Fight The Bite Brochure: This brochure provides information about the health risks posed by mosquitoes, the impact of climate change on mosquito breeding, and how people can protect themselves. It was developed to support partner organizations and agencies involved in mosquito management in their outreach to the public.
  • Teaching Module: These teaching modules for middle and high school educators are focused on the biology, ecology, and impacts of climate change on mosquitoes and their habitats. Student activities include an introduction to environmental DNA (eDNA) and a DNA extraction experiment. These activities were inspired by eDNA analysis techniques used to detect species‐specific mosquito larvae in salt marshes. Students first complete a simple DNA extraction experiment followed by an activity that mimics eDNA sampling methods within different zones of a salt marsh habitat. Both activities include follow‐up critical thinking questions and fulfill Next Generation Science Standards. The modules also provide answer key worksheets, and background information about a related research project, mosquito biology and management, DNA, and eDNA. The modules are best performed with students in the classroom in an in‐person setting.
  • Outreach Graphics: This collection of graphics was developed to support the project's outreach and communications efforts. The project team has made these graphics available for use by others communicating about mosquitoes and salt marsh management.



Rick Lathrop
Director, Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)

Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
14 College Farm Road, Cook Campus
New Brunswick, NJ USA 08901-8551
Tel: 848/932-1582
Fax: 732/932-2587

Web site composed by the Grant F. Walton Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA), © 2021. Page contents last updated 05/03/2021..