A race against time: habitat alteration by snow geese prunes the seasonal sequence of mosquito emergence in a subarctic brackish landscape
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Species compositions in highly seasonal habitats often exhibit predictable patterns through time. However, the roles that ecological interactions play in shaping the sequence of species phenologies through a season are largely unexplored. Across the tundra on the Hudson Bay Lowlands, extensive foraging by lesser snow goose populations has been driving alterations to the landscape. Here, I show that this widespread and dramatic disturbance increases evaporation rates of ephemeral ponds and consequently constricts the temporal availability of seasonal aquatic habitats for larval mosquitoes. I also show that this constriction decreases the temporal diversity of closely related univoltine mosquito species that have varying emergence schedules. Three species of mosquitoes emerged through the season from four sampled ephemeral ponds associated with no goose grubbing; only one species emerged, early in the season, from the four ponds that experienced heavy grubbing. This study demonstrates a mechanism for temporal composition change in a ubiquitous and abundant group of arthropods on the tundra. It does not show life history evolution of emergence time of mosquitoes; however, it highlights the rather unexplored role of ecological interactions in altering the diversity of phenologies across seasonal time.
KeywordsSeasonal ecology Life history strategies Temporal diversity Tundra
I thank Stephen C. Stearns for his guidance and Marta M. Wells for her support. I thank R. J. Pupedis and Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History’s Division of Entomology for their generous support with equipment. L. E. Munstermann at Yale School of Public Health and S. K. Burian provided important suggestions for study design. L. E. Munstermann also aided in mosquito species identification. This project is indebted to the support and good company of D. T. Iles, D. N. Koons, R. F. Rockwell, L. M. Aubry, C. P. Mulder, and J. F. House in the field at LPB. Financial support for this project was provided by the Sherwood E. Silliman Fellowship from Yale University.
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