Ecology, Feeding Preferences and Population Genetics of Mosquitoes in the Galapagos archipelago
My research is part of a larger research on avian malaria in Galapagos and involves the vector mosquito’s role in transmitting avian malaria (Plasmodium spp) in the archipelago. In a nutshell, this involves understanding the ecology, feeding preferences and population genetics of mosquitoes in the Galapagos. One approach to understanding the ecology of vector mosquitoes includes identifying the environmental factors that influence mosquito populations across different elevations and islands. This information is useful for predictive modeling of mosquito distributions and can be used as a proxy for predicting hot spots for avian malaria. My research also aims to assess the host feeding range of mosquitoes and investigate whether they exhibit a preference to feeding on certain host species in Galapagos. This component also involves screening for Haemosporidian parasites in mosquitoes and understanding the mosquito’s role in disease transmission. Thirdly but not the least, I am also interested in understanding how local populations of mosquitoes differ genetically across altitudinal gradients and islands. As part of this focus, I aim to determine whether genetic variation in populations is ultimately structured by different ecological factors.
Being a native of Papua New Guinea which hosts island ecosystems similar to Galapagos, I was always fascinated by science and nature. Thus, I believe that good science is crucial for successful conservation of tropical ecosystems like Galapagos, often deemed as a living museum and pilgrimage for nature enthusiasts like myself. That being said, the overall goal of this research is to provide scientific knowledge towards conservation efforts in Galapagos and essentially avoid scenarios like Hawaii (i.e.: co-introduction of avian malaria and pox resulted in the extinction of endemic avifauna).
2012 – 2018: Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics – Department of Biology, University of Missouri – Saint Louis
2009 – 2011: MSc in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics – Department of Biology, University of Missouri Saint Louis
2003 – 2006: BA in Environmental Science and Geography, University of Papua New Guinea.
2011 – 2012: Research Scientist at Papua New Guinea Institute of Biological Research, Goroka – Papua New Guinea.
2013 (May – July), 2014 (February – June) and 2015 (April – June): Field research in Galapagos on Ph.D. dissertation as described above.
Asigau, S., Hartman, D.A., Higaschiguchi, J.M., and Parker, P.G. 2017. The distribution of mosquitoes across an altitudinal gradient in the Galapagos Islands. Journal of Vector Ecology. 42 (2): xxx-xxx