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Parasitism of Aedes albopictus by Ascogregarina taiwanensis lowers its competitive ability against Aedes triseriatus.

Abstract

We show that increased levels of parasitism in Aedes albopictus will decrease the initial competitive advantage of the species over Aedes triseriatus and increase the survivorship of Aedes triseriatus. We find Aedes albopictus is better able to invade when there is more extreme parasitism of Aedes triseriatus. Furthermore, although the transient dynamics differ, dilution of the parasite density through uptake by both species does not alter the equilibrium population sizes of either species.

We examine the effects of parasitism of gregarine parasites on Aedes albopictus and triseriatus population dynamics and competition with a focus on when Aedes albopictus is new to an area. We build a compartmental model including competition between Aedes albopictus and triseriatus while under parasitism of the gregarine parasites. Using parameters based on the literature, we simulate the dynamics and analyze the equilibrium population proportion of the two species. We consider the presence of both parasites and potential dilution effects.

Mosquito population dynamics are affected by many factors, such as abiotic factors (e.g. temperature and humidity) and competition between mosquito species. This is especially true when multiple mosquito species are vying to live in the same area. Knowledge of how population dynamics are affected by gregarine parasites among competing species can inform future mosquito control efforts and help prevent the spread of vector-borne disease.

Mosquitoes are vectors for diseases such as dengue, malaria and La Crosse virus that significantly impact the human population. When multiple mosquito species are present, the competition between species may alter population dynamics as well as disease spread. Two mosquito species, Aedes albopictus and Aedes triseriatus, both inhabit areas where La Crosse virus is found. Infection of Aedes albopictus by the parasite Ascogregarina taiwanensis and Aedes triseriatus by the parasite Ascogregarina barretti can decrease a mosquito's fitness, respectively. In particular, the decrease in fitness of Aedes albopictus occurs through the impact of Ascogregarina taiwanensis on female fecundity, larval development rate, and larval mortality and may impact its initial competitive advantage over Aedes triseriatus during invasion.

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