Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Donald Yee

Committee Chair Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kevin Kuehn

Committee Member 2 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. Carl Qualls

Committee Member 3 Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) are vectors of disease in the adult stage, but understanding the factors affecting distributions of the immature stages is important to the understanding and control of adult populations. Discarded automobile tires comprise important larval mosquito habitats. The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the southern house mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus) are two medically important species commonly found in tires, but factors affecting their larval distributions in tires have not been studied, nor have their interspecific interactions. I investigated the effects of chemicals associated with organic pollution on oviposition preferences and larval survival of both species, and the effects of resource limitation, interspecific density, and chemical pollution on interspecific competition between both species. I conducted field oviposition bioassays in tires containing different pollution concentrations, and laboratory larval survivorship bioassays in the same concentrations. Both species laid significantly more eggs in higher pollution concentrations, but there was no relationship between oviposition preference and larval survival in polluted water. In the laboratory, I measured larval survivorship, development time, adult mass, and population growth of both species under different resource levels, interspecific larval densities, and pollution concentrations. Culex quinquefasciatus survivorship and population growth were more detrimentally affected at low resource levels and at high interspecific densities, indicating that Ae. albopictus is a superior resource competitor. The presence of pollution did not affect the competitive outcome. My results indicate that organic pollution increases the susceptibility of tires to colonization by these species, and that larval competition between these species may affect adult populations.

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