Invasive leaf resources alleviate density dependence in the invasive mosquito, Aedes albopictus
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- Reiskind, M.H., Zarrabi, A.A. & Philip Lounibos, L. Biol Invasions (2010) 12: 2319. doi:10.1007/s10530-009-9646-6
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Interactions between invasive species can have important consequences for the speed and impact of biological invasions. Containers occupied by the invasive mosquito, Aedes albopictus Skuse, may be sensitive to invasive plants whose leaves fall into this larval habitat. To examine the potential for interactions between invasive leaf species and larval A. albopictus, we conducted a field survey of leaf material found with A. albopictus in containers in Palm Beach County, Florida and measured density dependent responses of A. albopictus larvae to two invasive and one native leaf species in laboratory experiments. We found increased diversity of leaf species, particularly invasive species, in areas further from the urbanized coast, and a significant positive association between the presence of Schinus terebinthifolious (Brazilian pepper) and the abundance of A. albopictus. In laboratory experiments, we determined that larval growth and survivorship were significantly affected by both larval density and leaf species which, in turn, resulted in higher population performance on the most abundant invasive species (Brazilian pepper) relative to the most abundant native species, Quercus virginiana (live oak). These results suggest invasive leaf species can alleviate density dependent reductions in population performance in A. albopictus, and may contribute to its invasion success and potential to spread infectious disease.