Testing Predictions of Displacement of Native Aedes by the Invasive Asian Tiger Mosquito Aedes Albopictus in Florida, USA
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- Lounibos, L., O'Meara, G., Escher, R. et al. Biological Invasions (2001) 3: 151. doi:10.1023/A:1014519919099
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The Asian Tiger Mosquito Aedes albopictus arrived in the USA in 1985 in used automobile tires from Japan and became established in Texas. This species has since spread to become the most abundant container-inhabiting mosquito in the southeastern USA, including Florida, where it has reduced the range of another non-indigenous mosquito, Aedes aegypti. To assess the accuracy of predictions that A. albopictus would competitively exclude the native Eastern Treehole Mosquito Aedes triseriatus from tires but not from treeholes (Livdahl and Willey (1991) Science 253: 189–191), we extensively monitored the abundances of mosquito immatures before and after the Asian Tiger invaded these habitats in south Florida. These field data failed to demonstrate exclusion of A. triseriatus from treeholes following the establishment of A. albopictus in this microhabitat in 1991. However, A. albopictus had significantly higher metamorphic success and showed a significant increase in mean crowding on A. triseriatus in treeholes monitored from 1991 to 1999. In urban and suburban sites, A. triseriatus was uncommon in abandoned tires even before the arrival of A. albopictus. In some wooded sites, there is evidence for a decline in numbers of A. triseriatus in used tires and cemetery vases, but the native species has not been excluded from these habitats. Overall, the negative effect of A. albopictus on A. triseriatus has been less severe than that on A. aegypti. Experiments outdoors in surrogate treeholes showed that A. albopictus was more successful than A. triseriatus in survival to emergence in the presence of predatory larvae of the native mosquito Toxorhynchites rutilus when first instar predators encountered both prey species shortly after their hatch. Eggs of A. albopictus also hatched more rapidly than those of A. triseriatus, giving larvae of the invasive species an initial developmental advantage to escape predation. Biological traits that may favor A. albopictus are offset partly by greater treehole occupancy by A. triseriatus and the infrequency of the invasive mosquito species in undisturbed woodlands, which mitigates against displacement of the native mosquito in these habitats.