Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


College of Science and Mathematics



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Matthew L. Aardema

Committee Member

Jennifer Krumins

Committee Member

Matthew Schuler


In 1999, West Nile Virus (WNV) was introduced to New York City, most likely by an infected bird or mosquito. Since then, West Nile has been detected in every one of the forty-eight continental states of the US, and outbreaks have occurred yearly. Mosquitos play an important role as the main vector for WNV transmission to mammals, birds and some reptiles. As New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the United States, WNV is an ever-present public health concern. High human population density may increase the probability of coming in contact with a WNV positive mosquito. The prevalence of WNV in most states, including New Jersey, fluctuates from year to year, both in humans and mosquitos. As a coastal state, New Jersey has many unique habitats including dune communities and salt marshes, which are home to distinct species of potential WNV vector such as Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus. Coastal locations also typically have divergent climate patterns compared to more inland locations. The ocean has a large heat capacity that will slow the rate at which the temperature changes on nearby land providing relatively more stable weather conditions than that of an inland community. It is presently unclear how environmental variance between coastal and inland locations may influence WNV presence within potential vectors. In order to determine the impact of climate variance on WNV presence and duration in mosquitos, weekly mosquito surveillance data from two distinct New Jersey counties between 2002 and 2019 was used to assess potential relationships between climate variance and the seasonal presence of WNV in mosquitos. The climate variables analyzed include precipitation and temperature from 2002-2019 in each county. As differences between species richness of the counties may also influence the presence of WNV, mosquito community composition was also assessed between the counties. I found that Monmouth County has thirteen additional species than Hunterdon. Three of these thirteen additional species are saltmarsh or shoreline specialists and all of them are known to be vectors for WNV. Additionally, I have identified trends of WNV presence in response to yearly climatic variation and discuss how these findings may be used to predict and prevent future WNV outbreaks in New Jersey.

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