a1 Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, 127 Noble Research Center, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA
a2 Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of Florida, 200 9th Street SE, Vero Beach, FL 32962, USA
Resource diversity is critical to fitness in many insect species, and may determine the coexistence of competitive species and the function of ecosystems. Plant material provides the nutritional base for numerous aquatic systems, yet the consequences of diversity of plant material have not been studied in aquatic container systems important for the production of mosquitoes. To address how diversity in leaf detritus affects container-inhabiting mosquitoes, we examined how leaf species affect competition between two container inhabiting mosquito larvae, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, that co-occur in many parts of the world. We tested the hypotheses that leaf species changes the outcome of intra- and interspecific competition between these mosquito species, and that combinations of leaf species affect competition in a manner not predictable based upon the response to each leaf species alone (i.e. the response to leaf combinations is non-additive). We find support for our first hypothesis that leaf species can affect competition, evidence that, in general, leaf combination alters competitive interactions, and no support that leaf combination impacts interspecific competition differently than intraspecific competition. We conclude that combinations of leaves increase mosquito production non-additively such that combinations of leaves act synergistically, in general, and result in higher total yield of adult mosquitoes in most cases, although certain leaf combinations for A. albopictus are antagonistic. We also conclude that leaf diversity does not have a different effect on interspecific competition between A. aegypti and A. albopictus, relative to intraspecific competition for each mosquito.
(Accepted November 30 2011)
(Online publication February 07 2012)