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J Med Entomol. 2008 May;45(3):375-83.

Detritus type alters the outcome of interspecific competition between Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Campus Box 4120, Normal, IL 61790, USA.


Many studies of interspecific competition between Aedes albopictus (Skuse) and Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae) larvae show that Ae. albopictus are superior resource competitors to Ae. aegypti. Single-species studies indicate that growth and survival of Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti larvae are affected by the type of detritus present in containers, which presumably affects the amount and quality of microorganisms that the mosquito larvae consume. We tested whether different detritus types alter the intensity of larval competition by raising 10 different density/species combinations of Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti larvae under standard laboratory conditions, with one of four detritus types (oak, pine, grass, or insect) provided as a nutrient base. Intraspecific competitive effects on survival were present with all detritus types. Ae. albopictus survivorship was unaffected by interspecific competition in all treatments. Negative interspecific effects on Ae. aegypti survivorship were present with three of four detritus types, but absent with grass. Estimated finite rate of increase (lambda') was lower with pine detritus than with any other detritus type for both species. Furthermore, Ae. aegypti lambda' was negatively affected by high interspecific density in all detritus types except grass. Thus, our experiment confirms competitive asymmetry in favor of Ae. albopictus with oak, pine, or insect detritus, but also demonstrates that certain detritus types may eliminate interspecific competition among the larvae of these species, which may allow for stable coexistence. Such variation in competitive outcome with detritus type may help to account for observed patterns of coexistence/exclusion of Ae. albopictus and Ae. aegypti in the field.

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