SJ Audubon Zoom Gen Meeting Tues Nov 10: "Birds, West Nile Virus and the Mosquito Connection"


TUESDAY, November 10, 7:00 p.m.



Dr. Tara Thiemann

Birds, West Nile Virus, and the Mosquito Connection


West Nile virus was introduced to the United States in New York in 1999 and, by 2003, it had spread across the country and was detected in California. It has since remained endemic throughout the country and state.  West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that primarily infects birds, sometimes decimating populations.  Additionally, with opportunistic feeding by mosquito vectors, the virus can be transmitted to mammals such as horses and humans. Host selection by these mosquito vectors is a crucial factor in the transmission of this virus and other pathogens. The goal of the current project was to characterize the feeding patterns of Cx. tarsalis, the Cx. pipiens complex, and other mosquito species according to habitat type in San Joaquin County. Over 600 bloodfed females were collected from different habitat types between August 2009 and November 2012. Over 80% of the bloodmeals were successfully identified. These bloodmeals represented 77 host species: 44% were mammalian and 56% were avian, with being collected from riparian and agricultural habitats. Overall, the most commonly fed upon species were cattle, house finches, and American robins. American crow, yellow-billed magpie, and California scrub-jay, species known to be highly impacted by West Nile virus, were also fed upon in this study.


Dr. Tara Thiemann is an Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at University of the Pacific. She was born and raised in Missouri, receiving her B.S. and M.S. in Biology at Truman State University in Kirksville, MO.


She then moved to California to pursue graduate work at University of California Davis. Dr. Thiemann graduated from UC Davis in 2011 with a Ph.D. in Entomology and a Designated Emphasis in the Biology of Vector-borne Diseases.  Her dissertation focused on the bloodfeeding patterns of the Culex pipiens complex and Culextarsalis, two primary vectors of West Nile virus in California.  At Pacific, Dr. Thiemann continues to study mosquitoes, while training both undergraduate and graduate students in her research lab.  Projects include continued exploration of the bloodfeeding patterns of California mosquitoes, studying the transmission of dog heartworm, and characterizing insecticide resistance in local populations.