Zoological Studies

Vol. 54, 2015

Biological mosquito control is affected by alternative prey

Ram Kumar1,2,3, Priyanesh Muhid4, Hans-Uwe Dahms5, Jaigopal Sharma6 and Jiang-Shiou Hwang2*

1Ecosystem Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Acharya Narendra Dev College (University of Delhi), Govindpuri, Kalkaji, New Delhi 110 019, India
2Institute of Marine Biology, National Taiwan Ocean University, 2 Pei Ning Road, Keelung 202, Taiwan
3Centre for Environmental Sciences, School of Earth Biological and Environmental Sciences, Central University of Bihar, Patna, India
4Australian Rivers Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia
5Department of Biomedical Science and Environmental Biology, KMU - Kaohsiung Medical University, No. 100, Shin-Chuan 1st Road, Kaohsiung 80708, Taiwan
6Department of Biotechnology, Delhi Technological University, Delhi 110042, India

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.
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 multispeciesprey 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.

Key words: Invasive fish; Conservation management; Optimal foraging; Prey selection; Prey switching; Aquaculture.

*Correspondence: E-mail: Jshwang@mail.ntou.edu.tw