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Drought and the organization of tree-hole mosquito communities

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In southeastern North America (North Florida, USA), the duration, frequency, and timing of drought differentially affect the survivorship of pre-adult tree-hole mosquitoes. Drought affects survivorship both by the direct action of dehydration on developing larvae and pupae and by the indirect modulation of predation. The drought-susceptible species, Toxorhynchites rutilus, Orthopodomyia signifera, and Anopheles barberi co-occur in more permanent holes that are larger, with larger, more vertical openings, lower down in larger trees, and contain darker water with higher conductivity, pH, and tannin-lignin content than the holes occupied by Aedes triseriatus that has drought-resistant eggs and rapid larval development. Ovipositing mosquitoes cue on physical and chemical attributes of tree holes independently of host tree species. These same attributes differ among drought-prone and drought-resistant holes but mosquitoes track these attributes more faithfully than the attributes predict tree-hole stability.

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Correspondence to W. E. Bradshaw.

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Bradshaw, W.E., Holzapfel, C.M. Drought and the organization of tree-hole mosquito communities. Oecologia 74, 507–514 (1988).

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Key words

  • Competition
  • Predation
  • Disturbance
  • Stability