Mosquito-borne diseases induce unrivalled morbidity and mortality in human populations. In recent times, greater urbanisation has facilitated vector population expansion, particularly of those which proliferate in container-style habitats. To combat increased associated disease risk, we urgently require innovative and efficacious control mechanisms to be identified and implemented. Predatory biological control of vectorially-important mosquitoes can be effective. Despite their high prevalence in freshwater ecosystems, predatory calanoid copepods have yet to be examined comprehensively for mosquito control. Moreover, environmental context-dependencies can cause substantial variations in natural enemy impacts on target populations. Accordingly, improved understanding of the effects of context-dependencies upon predatory biocontrol is needed. Here, we use functional responses (FRs) to examine the predatory impact of a newly-described species of calanoid copepod, Lovenula raynerae, upon larval Culex pipiens prey across variations in prey supply and water clarity. Using outdoor field trials, we assess the viability of L. raynerae in reducing mosquito survival in container-style habitats. Lovenula raynerae displayed destabilising Type II FRs towards larval mosquito prey across all water clarities tested, with overall predation rates remaining largely unaffected across all clarity treatments. In the outdoor experiment, L. raynerae applications resulted in substantial reductions in larval C. pipiens populations, with close to total eradication achieved following the experimental period under higher predator densities. These results demonstrate that environmental context such as water clarity may have little effect on vector control by calanoid copepods, which suggests a predatory reliance on hydromechanical signalling. Further, for the first time, we demonstrate the applicability of calanoid copepods to artificial container-style habitats where mosquitoes proliferate. Therefore, our results indicate that further examination into the applicability of this species group to aid vector biocontrol strategies is warranted.
Cuthbert, R. N., Dalu, T., Wasserman, R. J., Coughlan, N. E., Callaghan, A., Weyl, O. L. F., & Dick, J. T. A. (2018). Muddy waters: efficacious predation of container-breeding mosquitoes by a newly-described calanoid copepod across differential water clarities. Biological Control , 127, 25-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocontrol.2018.08.017