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Keywords:

  • Biological control;
  • Cladocera;
  • combined effect;
  • competition;
  • Culicidae;
  • pond colonization

ABSTRACT

Newly established ponds, which are highly dynamic systems with changing levels of biological interactions among species, are common larval mosquito habitats. We investigated the impact of crustacean abundance and taxa diversity on mosquito oviposition and larval development. The effects of the biological larvicide Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) on mosquito larvae were monitored according to fluctuations in crustacean communities. Populations of the mosquito Culex pipiens colonized artificial ponds that contained crustacean communities at different time points of colonization by crustaceans: 1) ‘no colonization’ (no crustaceans), 2) ‘simultaneous colonization’ by crustaceans and mosquitoes, and 3) ‘head-start colonization’ by crustaceans (preceding colonization by mosquitoes). All types of ponds were treated with three concentrations of Bti (10, 100, or 1,000 µg/liter). Colonization of all ponds by Cx. pipiens (in terms of oviposition, larval abundance, and larval development) decreased significantly with increasing diversity of crustacean taxa. The total abundance of crustaceans had a minor effect on colonization by Cx. pipiens. The presence of crustaceans increased the sensitivity of Cx. pipiens larvae to Bti treatment by a factor of 10 and delayed the time of recolonization. This effect of Bti was relevant in the short term. In the long term, the presence of Cx. pipiens was determined by crustacean biodiversity.