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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35959. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035959. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

An experimental field study of delayed density dependence in natural populations of Aedes albopictus.

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Department of Entomology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America.


Aedes albopictus, a species known to transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses, is primarily a container-inhabiting mosquito. The potential for pathogen transmission by Ae. albopictus has increased our need to understand its ecology and population dynamics. Two parameters that we know little about are the impact of direct density-dependence and delayed density-dependence in the larval stage. The present study uses a manipulative experimental design, under field conditions, to understand the impact of delayed density dependence in a natural population of Ae. albopictus in Raleigh, North Carolina. Twenty liter buckets, divided in half prior to experimentation, placed in the field accumulated rainwater and detritus, providing oviposition and larval production sites for natural populations of Ae. albopictus. Two treatments, a larvae present and larvae absent treatment, were produced in each bucket. After five weeks all larvae were removed from both treatments and the buckets were covered with fine mesh cloth. Equal numbers of first instars were added to both treatments in every bucket. Pupae were collected daily and adults were frozen as they emerged. We found a significant impact of delayed density-dependence on larval survival, development time and adult body size in containers with high larval densities. Our results indicate that delayed density-dependence will have negative impacts on the mosquito population when larval densities are high enough to deplete accessible nutrients faster than the rate of natural food accumulation.

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