Influence of fire salamander larvae on among-pool distribution of mosquito egg rafts: oviposition habitat selection or egg raft predation?
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- Blaustein, J., Sadeh, A. & Blaustein, L. Hydrobiologia (2014) 723: 157. doi:10.1007/s10750-013-1554-1
Many amphibian populations are in decline worldwide. Surprisingly, few studies have examined how such declines may benefit mosquitoes. Amphibian larvae may compete with and prey upon mosquito larvae, and may alter oviposition habitat selection (OHS) of mosquito adults. However, often overlooked, observed among-pool egg distributions attributed to OHS may additionally or alternatively be explained by egg predation. Temporary pools of mountainous areas of the Mediterranean serve as larval habitat for both the mosquito, Culiseta longiareolata, and the salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata. We found Culiseta larvae and egg rafts to be highly vulnerable to predation by pre-metamorphosing Salamandra larvae, but not to metamorphosing ones. In outdoor mesocosm experiments, oviposition avoidance by Culiseta females in response to caged Salamandra was not demonstrated regardless of salamander developmental stage. Egg raft abundance was significantly reduced in free-roaming, pre-metamorphosing Salamandra but not by metamorphosing ones. Thus, Salamandra larvae may have little deterrence on Culiseta oviposition. Instead, fewer egg rafts are attributed largely to egg predation. This study highlights the importance of egg raft predation in addition to OHS when interpreting the influence of predators on prey egg distributions. It also highlights that a cost of declining amphibian populations is their reduced impacts on mosquito populations.