Biological mosquito control is affected by alternative prey
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Background: Mosquitofish were introduced to several countries of the tropics and subtropics as biological agents for the control of mosquito larvae. Meanwhile, they became a threat to native communities and fish worldwide, similar to other invasive species through resource competition, overexploitation, or habitat alteration. We investigated prey selectivity patterns of Gambusia affinis (mosquitofish) preying on larvae of the two Indian major carps (Catla catla and Labeo rohita) in the presence of varied proportions of alternative prey (rotifers, cladocerans, chironomid and mosquito larvae) under laboratory conditions. Results: The patterns of prey selectivity in mosquitofish were influenced by the presence of alternative prey and their relative abundance in the environment. Carp larvae, when present in equal proportions, were randomly selected by mosquitofish, however, positively selected when present in higher proportions. In the presence of Hexarthra mira, Daphnia similoides or the mosquito larval instar-IV as an alternative prey, the mosquitofish preferred fish larvae regardless of prey proportions. In the medium where either mosquito larval instar-I or chironomid larvae were given as alternative prey, the mosquitofish either rejected or randomly selected the carp larvae. Given a multispecies prey combination, mosquitofish primarily selected the larvae of L. rohita and mosquito larval instar-I. We also found a prey switching ability of mosquitofish in relation to varying abundances of prey species in the environment. Conclusions: The present results suggest that mosquito immatures are not the preferred food of mosquitofish when fish larvae are present in their natural habitats. Since mosquitofish and carp larvae have overlapping natural habitats and prey preferences are the invasive mosquitofish may have a substantial impact on native communities of invertebrates and fish. This way, they are equally important for extensive fisheries and conservation management.
© Kumar et al. 2015. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.
Zoology not elsewhere classified