Interaction Networks and Spatial Complexity in Mosquito-borne Diseases

Deborah M. Gordon
Home Organization
Department of Biology, Stanford University
Richard Paul
Visiting Organization
Institut Pasteur, Genomes & Genetics Department, Paris, France

The World Health Organization estimates that one of the main consequences of global warming will be an increased burden of mosquito-borne diseases. The spatial complexity of mosquito-borne diseases is currently thwarting control efforts. The challenge is to understand how individuals, their movements and interactions, and the environment, each contribute to determining the local spread of disease. The collective behavior and interaction networks of ant colonies are analogous in some ways to those of human populations. Examples from ant ecology provide a starting point for examining more generally the fit between the particular pattern of interaction that regulates activity, and the environment in which it functions. Social insects exhibit coordinated behavior without central control. Local interactions among individuals determine their behavior and regulate the activity of the colony. This project explores how we might use interaction networks of social insect colonies as a model for improving our understanding of infectious disease epidemiology. External interventions attempt to shift human-mosquito interaction networks, for example by limiting disease dispersal caused by shifts in the use open-air markets in response to infection. The goal of our project is to contribute to estimates of the effect of such external interventions on the epidemiological outcome.

Academic Year
2016-2017
Project Type
Area of Study