Evolution determines how global warming and pesticide exposure will shape predator–prey interactions with vector mosquitoes

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How evolution may mitigate the effects of global warming and pesticide exposure on predator–prey interactions is directly relevant for vector control. Using a space-for-time substitution approach, we addressed how 4°C warming and exposure to the pesticide endosulfan shape the predation on Culex pipiens mosquitoes by damselfly predators from replicated low- and high-latitude populations. Although warming was only lethal for the mosquitoes, it reduced predation rates on these prey. Possibly, under warming escape speeds of the mosquitoes increased more than the attack efficiency of the predators. Endosulfan imposed mortality and induced behavioral changes (including increased filtering and thrashing and a positional shift away from the bottom) in mosquito larvae. Although the pesticide was only lethal for the mosquitoes, it reduced predation rates by the low-latitude predators. This can be explained by the combination of the evolution of a faster life history and associated higher vulnerabilities to the pesticide (in terms of growth rate and lowered foraging activity) in the low-latitude predators and pesticide-induced survival selection in the mosquitoes. Our results suggest that predation rates on mosquitoes at the high latitude will be reduced under warming unless predators evolve toward the current low-latitude phenotype or low-latitude predators move poleward.

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