Effects of Detritus on the Mosquito Culex pipiens: Phragmites and Schedonorus (Festuca) Invasion Affect Population Performance

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Leisnham, Paul T.
Scott, Brandon
Baldwin, Andrew H.
LaDeau, Shannon L.
Leisnham, P.T.; Scott, B.; Baldwin, A.H.; LaDeau, S.L. Effects of Detritus on the Mosquito Culex pipiens: Phragmites and Schedonorus (Festuca) Invasion Affect Population Performance. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4118. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214118
Species interactions that influence the performance of the exotic mosquito Culex pipiens can have important effects on the transmission risk of West Nile virus (WNV). Invasive plants that alter the vegetation communities of ephemeral ground pools may facilitate or resist the spread of C. pipiens (L.) by altering allochthonous inputs of detritus in those pools. To test this hypothesis, we combined field surveys of roadside stormwater ditches with a laboratory microcosm experiment to examine relationships between C. pipiens performance and water quality in systems containing detritus from invasive Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. Ex Steud., introduced Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort., or native Juncus effusus L. or Typha latifolia L. In ditches, C. pipiens abundance was unrelated to detritus species but female C. pipiens were significantly larger from ditches with S. arundinaceus and smaller with J. effusus. Larger and smaller C. pipiens were also produced in microcosms provisioned with S. arundinaceus and J. effusus, respectively, yet the per capita rate of population of change did not vary. Larger females from habitats with S. arundinaceus were likely caused by faster decay rates of S. arundinaceus and resultant increases in microbial food, but lower survival as a result of fouling and higher tannin-lignin concentrations resulted in little changes to overall population performance. Larger female mosquitoes have been shown to have greater potential for transmitting arboviruses. Our findings suggest that changed community-level interactions from plant invasions in urban ephemeral ground pools can affect the fitness of C. pipiens and possibly increase WNV risk.
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