Distribution of native birds and non-native mosquitoes that transmit avian malaria relative to temperature and elevation in Hawai‘i
Temperature and elevation affect the distribution and intensity of avian malaria in Hawai‘i. Climate change is aiding the rapid movement of disease into disease-free forests. At low elevations, mosquitoes breed year-round, and disease transmission is too intense for most native bird species to persist. At mid-elevations, up to 1500 m, disease is more seasonal, and some native species persist. Only at the highest elevation forests, above 1500 m, are temperatures too cool for mosquitoes and the malaria parasite to develop, resulting in forest habitat with little to no disease transmission. However, climate change is allowing mosquito populations to invade new areas, increasing disease distribution across the Hawaiian Islands.
Illustration by Eben Paxton, USGS