MAILED: Aug. 10, 2000
Summer is the time of year when the bug spray comes out and people do everything they can to avoid the pesky seasonal nuisance of mosquitoes. This summer, however, one University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate student is doing just the opposite.
Doug Dyer, Eagan, Minn., a graduate student in the environmental and public health program at UW-Eau Claire, is researching mosquitoes and their breeding sites around the city of Eau Claire as part of his thesis project.
"Specifically, what I am doing is developing a cartographic mosquito database using geographic information systems," Dyer said.
Dyer has been working on the project since April. "For the past three months, I have been traversing Eau Claire identifying larval mosquito habitats, collecting and identifying samples, generating a global positioning system coordinate for each site, and entering the information into GIS software," he said.
The map created by the research will detail the presence, abundance and habitat types of species of mosquitoes in Eau Claire. It also will provide a photograph and global positioning system coordinates for each of the sampling sites, which, according to Dyer, will simplify resampling efforts by future researchers.
Dyer said he chose this particular research project for his thesis because it provided him with the opportunity to incorporate new technologies in his field.
"GIS and GPS technology are just beginning to be realized in the environmental and public health field, and I wanted to develop a marketable skill as well as to gain exposure to the technology."
The value of the research for others in the field as well as for the general public also was a factor in Dyer's decision to conduct this research. "The project will benefit researchers, educators, health specialists and the public, because it provides concise, visual and detailed descriptive information that can be updated on a continuous basis," Dyer said.
The information gathered can help to protect public health, Dyer added. Mosquitoes can carry various diseases, and, if they become a serious health threat to the community, the knowledge of where breeding sites are located would be useful in initiating control measures as quickly as possible.
"Overall, I envision this project as providing a framework upon which future researchers can explore the habitats of mosquitoes while preserving public health and safety," Dyer said.
Dyer came to UW-Eau Claire with a bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife management from the University of Minnesota. He was awarded a grant from UW-Eau Claire to conduct this research. He expects to complete the project by November and plans to graduate with his master's degree in December.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Aug. 15, 2000