Diversity of mosquito fauna (Diptera, Culicidae) in higher-altitude regions of Croatia.
Global climate change and the accompanying rise in temperature could affect the biology and ecology of a number of vectors, including mosquitoes. High altitude areas that were previously unsuitable for the spread of mosquito vector populations could become suitable. The aim of this research was to study the distribution of mosquito species in higher altitude regions of Croatia. Samples were collected in three areas: Slavonian Mountains, Gorski Kotar, and Middle Velebit. Specimens were morphologically determined and confirmed by DNA barcoding and other genetic markers and showed the presence of 16 species belonging to six genera. The most abundant species were the Culex pipiens complex with 50% of the collected specimens. Both pipiens (Linnaeus, 1758) and molestus (Forskal, 1775) biotypes and their hybrids were identified within the complex, followed by Culex torrentium (Martini, 1925) (20.2%), Culiseta longiareolata (Macquart, 1838) (8.5%), and the invasive species Aedes japonicus (Theobald, 1901) (7.8% of the total number of collected specimens). The remaining 12 species made up 14.7% of the collected specimens. Intraspecific COI p-distances were within the standard barcoding threshold for OTUs, while interspecific genetic distances were much higher, confirming the existence of barcoding gaps. Mosquito fauna of Croatian mountains showed a moderate variety and made 30.8% of the total number of recorded mosquito species in Croatia thus far.