Socio-ecological dynamics in urban systems: an integrative approach to mosquito-borne disease in Bengaluru, India.
Urban environments are heterogeneous landscapes of social and environmental features, with important consequences for human-nature entanglements, such as that of mosquito-borne disease. Investigations into this intra-urban heterogeneity in mosquito dynamics find conflicting results, likely due to the complex socio-ecological interactions and the importance of place-based context. Integrative research, which synthesizes multiple disciplines and epistemologies, can place ecological results into their social context to explore these place-based differences and reveal novel solutions for mosquito-borne disease management. Here, we develop an integrative approach to understanding spatial patterns of mosquito burdens in urban systems by combining entomological surveys, semi-structured interviews and sketch maps. We highlight this approach using a mixed-method study conducted in Bengaluru, India, a rapidly urbanizing city with a high burden of mosquito-borne disease. Although we found no evidence for a difference in mosquito abundance across an urban gradient, there were differences in individuals' everyday experiences with mosquitoes. These differences were mediated by how individuals moved through outdoor space and their vulnerability to hazards in these spaces. This example of integrative research illustrates what can be gained from the inclusion of multiple epistemologies, particularly for research in urban systems.