Date of Award

5-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Donald A. Yee, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

It is well documented that intense larval competition exists between species of container mosquitoes. Two of the main genera of mosquitoes found to inhabit containers are Aedes and Culex. This study sought to determine the effects that different detritus treatments and larva ratios would have on carbon and nitrogen content, mass, and survival of larvae of various species. The species used in this experiment were Aedes albopictus, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus. I hypothesized that Ae. albopictus would be more efficient in acquiring nitrogen then the competitor species Ae. aegypti and Cx. quinquefasciatus. Thus, I expected Ae. albopictus to have higher survivorship levels than the other species when competition took place in an environment with limited resources. I also hypothesized that survival would vary in all species between detritus types. I used single and mixed amounts of leaf and animal detritus: 2:0, 1:1, 2:10 and 0:10 animal:leaf, with one unit of detritus equaling 0.10 g. The detritus treatment levels were crossed with five larval densities: 0:20. 20:0, 20:20, 0:40, 40:0. My results showed that neither the detritus treatment nor larval intra- or interspecific densities had any effect on the survivorship of Ae. albopictus. Aedes aegypti showed no changes in survivorship across intra- or interspecific densities, but did show decreased survivorship in treatments that contained only leaf detritus compared to those with animal detritus. Culex quinquefasciatus showed changes in survivorship due to both larval density and detritus treatment levels. Survival was highest for Cx. quinquefasciatus in detritus treatments containing animal detritus and lowest in leaf only treatments. Their survival suffered in the high larval density treatments compared to the low density larva treatments. However, survival for Cx. quinquefasciatus was unusually high in the high larva density animal only detritus treatment with Ae. albopictus present. Findings support the view that Ae. albopictus is the top competitor in container enviroments due to the lack of intra- and interspecific competitive effects across the detritus types and amounts used. Analysis of nitrogen, which is assumed to be limited in the systems studied, will allow for a better understanding of the mechanism by which Ae. albopictus is able to better survive.

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