Data from: Aquatic microfauna alter larval food resources and affect development and biomass of West Nile and Saint Louis encephalitis vector Culex nigripalpus (Diptera: Culicidae)
Duguma, Dagne; Kaufman, Michael G.; Simas Domingos, Arthur B. (2018), Data from: Aquatic microfauna alter larval food resources and affect development and biomass of West Nile and Saint Louis encephalitis vector Culex nigripalpus (Diptera: Culicidae), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4tv3q
Ciliate protists and rotifers are ubiquitous in aquatic habitats and can comprise a significant portion of the microbial food resources available to larval mosquitoes, often showing substantial declines in abundance in the presence of mosquito larvae. This top-down regulation of protists is reported to be strong for mosquitoes inhabiting small aquatic containers such as pitcher plants or tree holes, but the nature of these interactions with larval mosquitoes developing in other aquatic habitats is poorly understood. We examined the effects of these two microbial groups on lower trophic level microbial food resources, such as bacteria, small flagellates, and organic particles, in the water column, and on Culex larval development and adult production. In three independent laboratory experiments using two microeukaryote species (one ciliate protist and one rotifer) acquired from field larval mosquito habitats and cultured in the laboratory, we determined the effects of Culex nigripalpus larval grazing on water column microbial dynamics, while simultaneously monitoring larval growth and development. The results revealed previously unknown interactions that were different from the top-down regulation of microbial groups by mosquito larvae in other systems. Both ciliates and rotifers, singly or in combination, altered other microbial populations and inhibited mosquito growth. It is likely that these microeukaryotes, instead of serving as food resources, competed with early instar mosquito larvae for microbes such as small flagellates and bacteria in a density-dependent manner. These findings help our understanding of the basic larval biology of Culex mosquitoes, variation in mosquito production among various larval habitats, and may have implications for existing vector control strategies and for developing novel microbial-based control methods.