Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2015 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Spatio-temporal distribution of container-utilizing mosquito species across a socioeconomic gradient in Baltimore, MD
Saunders, Megan
Co-Authors: Megan E. M. Saunders, Shannon L. LaDeau, Paul T. Leisnham

Abstract: Ecological theory and empirical data indicate that with one limiting factor in a constant environment, interspecific competition should result in competitive exclusion, however many competitors appear to escape local extinction and coexist. In urban environments, a variety of mosquito species utilize water-holding containers during their developmental stages. Competitively inferior species often co-occur with superior competitors, despite their competitive disadvantage. Understanding the mechanisms behind species coexistence can provide insight into processes governing species distributions and guide public health management efforts. Several medically important species of mosquitoes coexist across neighborhoods that vary in socio-economic status in southwest Baltimore, Maryland. These include Culex pipiens, Culex restuans, and the competitively superior invasive Aedes albopictus. We tested predictions of temporal and spatial habitat segregation that foster coexistence of these species. Standard oviposition cups were deployed every three weeks in four socio-economically disparate neighborhoods in Baltimore City between May and November, 2014. A total of 61,534 mosquito larvae were collected. Aedes albopictus, Cx. restuans, and Cx. pipiens constituted 80.4%, 10.9%, and 7.9% of total larvae, respectively. The highest abundances of Ae. albopictus and Cx. restuans were found in Union Square, whereas the highest Cx. pipiens abundances were found in Franklin Square. Aedes albopictus abundances in the highest socioeconomic neighborhood (Bolton Hill) were approximately half that of the other neighborhoods. These results suggest that both spatial and temporal habitat segregation may foster coexistence of Cx. spp with Ae. albopictus in southwest Baltimore. Socioeconomic status may affect Ae. albopictus abundances, presumably through changes in larval habitat types.