Effects of nutrition and density inCulex pipiens


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Abstract

Abstract.Mosquito larvae face numerous biotic and abiotic challenges that affect their development and survivorship, as well as adult fitness. We conducted two experiments under semi-natural conditions to evaluate the effects of intraspecific competition, nutrient limitation and sub-lethal doses of malathion on individual life history traits in adult Culex pipiens (Diptera: Culicidae). In the first experiment, larvae of Cx. pipiens were reared at different intraspecific densities and exposed to sub-lethal doses of malathion. In the second experiment, different intraspecific densities of Cx. pipiens larvae were reared under conditions of low or high larval nutrients, and subsequent adults were fed on either water or 10% sucrose solution. Malathion treatment had relatively minor effects compared with density, which had significant negative effects on development rate, survivorship to adulthood, body size (wing length) and longevity. As larval density increased, a sex ratio distortion in survivorship to adulthood emerged, in which a bias towards males was apparent. Nutrient-rich larval environments alleviated, in part, the effects of increasing density and extended the lifespan of mosquitoes fed on water and 10% sucrose. Density-dependent alterations in adult longevity attributable to the larval environment are complex and show contrasting results depending on interactions with other environmental factors. This study suggests that larval resource availability and competition influence Cx. pipiens population growth correlates and have lasting effects on traits that relate to a mosquito's ability to vector pathogens.

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