Plasticity-Mediated Persistence in New and Changing Environments
- Matthew R. J. Morris
- International journal of evolutionary biology
Two invasive, container-breeding mosquito species, Aedes aegypti (Stegomyia aegypti) and Aedes albopictus (Stegomyia albopicta) (Diptera: Culicidae), have different distribution patterns on Reunion Island. Aedes albopictus occurs in all areas and Ae. aegypti colonizes only some restricted areas already occupied by Ae. albopictus. This study investigates the abiotic and biotic ecological mechanisms that determine the distribution of Aedes species on Reunion Island. Life history traits (duration of immature stages, survivorship, fecundity, estimated finite rate of increase) in Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus were compared at different temperatures. These fitness measures were characterized in both species in response to competitive interactions among larvae. Aedes aegypti was drastically affected by temperature, performing well only at around 25 °C, at which it achieved its highest survivorship and greatest estimated rate of increase. The narrow distribution of this species in the field on Reunion Island may thus relate to its poor ability to cope with unfavourable temperatures. Aedes aegypti was also more negatively affected by high population densities and to some extent by interactions with Ae. albopictus, particularly in the context of limited food supplies. Aedes albopictus exhibited better population performance across a range of environmental conditions. Its ecological plasticity and its superior competitive ability relative to its congener may further enhance its invasion success on Reunion Island.