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Anopheles (Cellia) punctulatus species complex

Anopheles punctulatus s.l. comprises two apparent species, An. punctulatus and An. sp. near punctulatus. Anopheles sp. near punctulatus is relatively uncommon and has only been found in a few remote highland localities on the island of New Guinea (Papua, Indonesia and PNG), and very little is known about its biology or role in disease transmission.

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Habitats

Anopheles punctulatus can be found in lowland river valleys and plains with extensions up to elevations above 1700 m, possibly extending above 2000 m on occasion. The immature stages of An. punctulatus prefer small, scattered, shallow, sunlit (although partial shade is tolerated) temporary pools of fresh water. Oviposition has been observed on muddy pools and even moist soil. Water can be clear or turbid (muddy), but never brackish. In some cases, high organic content (e.g. animal excrement, typically pigs) is tolerated. Most transient sites are maintained by rainfall or are found in areas with high water tables. Other natural sites include sand or gravel ground pools in small streams and riverbeds, but larvae are only occasionally found in rock pools. Often sites are completely free of natural predators with little or no vegetation (occasionally algae or sparse emergent plants). This species will generally only thrive in areas with perennial rainfall, however eggs can withstand desiccation and larvae have the ability to survive in damp mud in the absence of free water for several days during limited periods of drought. Often man-made small ground depressions or those created by animals (rooting pigs, hoof prints) become ideal habitats, as well as recently disturbed areas such as land clearing for gardens and road construction, and natural landslides. Larvae are able to withstand water temperatures exceeding 40°C and typically have rapid growth and a short development period to adults (5-9 days). High densities of larvae and general abiotic conditions of recently created sites can result in significant cannibalism as a survival mechanism. Anopheles punctulatus is particularly effective at exploiting disturbed sites. Populations may reach high densities in very short periods of time when environmental and seasonal conditions are favourable. Under optimal conditions with rapid, synchronous larval development, this species can quickly invade recently disturbed (cleared) and previously uncolonised areas to produce large numbers of adults. The efficiency by which this species can quickly exploit sudden and dramatic changes in habitat (e.g. temporary pools formed by recession of rivers in drought conditions) has resulted in severe and unexpected outbreaks of malaria in the highlands of New Guinea. Adults are often found in close proximity to human habitation and larval habitats.

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Resting and feeding preferences

Females readily attack humans outdoors and also enter houses in search of hosts. Individuals that feed in houses may rest indoors for the entire evening and daytime but the vast majority of females leave before dawn to rest outdoors. Feeding frequency and peak activity is variable by locality, environmental conditions and season with peak activity occurring around or after midnight in some areas, and the majority of biting occurring before midnight in other localities.

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Vectorial capacity

Anopheles punctulatus is highly susceptible to infection by Plasmodium parasites and is an efficient and important vector of human malaria in many areas throughout its range.

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Further details and the sources for this text can be found in

Sinka, M.E., Bangs, M.J, Manguin, S., Chareonviriyaphap, T., Patil, A.P., Temperley, W.H., Gething, P.W., Elyazar, I.R.F., Kabaria, C.W., Harbach, R.E. and Hay, S.I. (2011). The dominant Anopheles vectors of human malaria in the Asia-Pacific region: occurrence data, distribution maps and bionomic précis. Parasites and Vectors 4: 89

This text has come from multiple sources which are all listed in the above paper