, Volume 155, Issue 3, pp 631-639
Date: 14 Dec 2007

Do natural container habitats impede invader dominance? Predator-mediated coexistence of invasive and native container-dwelling mosquitoes

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Predator-mediated coexistence of competitors occurs when a species that is superior in competition is also more vulnerable to a shared predator compared to a poorer competitor. The invasive mosquito Aedes albopictus is usually competitively superior to Ochlerotatus triseriatus. Among second instar larvae, A. albopictus show a lesser degree of behavioral modification in response to water-borne cues from predation by the larval midge Corethrella appendiculata than do O. triseriatus, rendering A. albopictus more vulnerable to predation by C. appendiculata than O. triseriatus. The hypothesis that C. appendiculata predation favors coexistence of these competitors predicts that C. appendiculata abundances will be negatively and positively correlated with A. albopictus and O. triseriatus abundances, respectively, and that coexistence will occur where C. appendiculata are common. Actual abundances of O. triseriatus, A. albopictus, and C. appendiculata in three habitats fit this prediction. In natural container habitats like tree holes, C. appendiculata were abundant and competitors co-existed at similar densities. In cemeteries and tires, which occur primarily in non-forested, human-dominated habitats, A. albopictus dominated, with abundances twice those found in tree holes, but C. appendiculata and O. triseriatus were rare or absent. We also tested for whether antipredatory behavioral responses of A. albopictus differed among habitats or populations, or were correlated with local C. appendiculata abundances. We could detect no differences in A. albopictus antipredatory behavioral responses to water-borne cues from predation. Tree hole habitats appear to promote co-existence of O. triseriatus and A. albopictus through interactions with predatory C. appendiculata, and this predator effect appears to limit invasion success of A. albopictus in tree holes. There are many studies on predator-mediated coexistence in natural habitats but to our knowledge this is the first study to suggest differential predator-mediated coexistence between natural and man-made habitats.

Communicated by Carla Caceres.
An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-008-1184-x