Diet and density dependent competition affect larval performance and oviposition site selection in the mosquito species Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae)
1 Emory University, Georgia, Atlanta, USA
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA
3 James Cook University, Cairns, Australia
4 Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
5 Department of Environmental Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA
Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:225 doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-225Published: 8 October 2012
Oviposition-site choice is an essential component of the life history of all mosquito species. According to the oviposition-preference offspring-performance (P-P) hypothesis, if optimizing offspring performance and fitness ensures high overall reproductive fitness for a given species, the female should accurately assess details of the heterogeneous environment and lay her eggs preferentially in sites with conditions more suitable to offspring.
We empirically tested the P-P hypothesis using the mosquito species Aedes albopictus by artificially manipulating two habitat conditions: diet (measured as mg of food added to a container) and conspecific density (CD; number of pre-existing larvae of the same species). Immature development (larval mortality, development time to pupation and time to emergence) and fitness (measured as wing length) were monitored from first instar through adult emergence using a factorial experimental design over two ascending gradients of diet (2.0, 3.6, 7.2 and 20 mg food/300 ml water) and CD (0, 20, 40 and 80 larvae/300 ml water). Treatments that exerted the most contrasting values of larval performance were recreated in a second experiment consisting of single-female oviposition site selection assay.
Development time decreased as food concentration increased, except from 7.2 mg to 20.0 mg (Two-Way CR ANOVA Post-Hoc test, P > 0.1). Development time decreased also as conspecific density increased from zero to 80 larvae (Two-Way CR ANOVA Post-Hoc test, P < 0.5). Combined, these results support the role of density-dependent competition for resources as a limiting factor for mosquito larval performance. Oviposition assays indicated that female mosquitoes select for larval habitats with conspecifics and that larval density was more important than diet in driving selection for oviposition sites.
This study supports predictions of the P-P hypothesis and provides a mechanistic understanding of the underlying factors driving mosquito oviposition site selection.