Desiccation and thermal tolerance of eggs and the coexistence of competing mosquitoes
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We tested the hypothesis that differences in temperature and desiccation tolerances of eggs of the container-dwelling mosquitoes Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti influence whether invading A. albopictus coexist with or exclude A. aegypti in Florida. In the laboratory, egg mortality through 30 days for A. albopictus was strongly temperature and humidity dependent, with low humidity and high temperature producing greatest mortality. In contrast, mortality through 30 days and through 60 days for A. aegypti was very low and independent of temperature and humidity. Mortality through 90 days for A. aegypti showed significant effects of both temperature and humidity. In the field, the proportion of vases occupied by A. albopictus was significantly lower at four of six sites at the start of the wet season (after a dry period) versus well into the wet season (after containers had held water for weeks). The proportion of vases occupied by A. aegypti was independent of when during the wet season vases were sampled. These results imply that dry periods cause disproportionately greater mortality of A. albopictus eggs compared to A. aegypti eggs. Container occupancy at tire and cemetery sites was significantly related to two principal components derived from long-term average climate data. Occupancy of containers by A. albopictus was greatest at cool sites with little or no dry season, and decreased significantly with increasing mean temperature and increasing number of dry months. In contrast, occupancy of containers by A. aegypti was lowest at cool sites with little or no dry season, and increased significantly with increasing mean temperature and increasing dry season length, and decreased significantly with total precipitation and number of wet months. We suggest that local coexistence of these species is possible because warm, dry climates favor A. aegypti and alleviate effects of competition from A. albopictus via differential mortality of A. albopictus eggs.
KeywordsAedes aegypti Aedes albopictus Climate Interspecific competition Mechanisms of coexistence
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