Energy reserves in mosquitoes are an indicator of fitness, linking larval effort in resource acquisition with adult survival and fecundity. In other words, life history strategies and disease transmission potential can be related to the amount of energy reserves. The energy reserves of four mosquitoes – Aedes aegypti, Aedes albopictus, Armigeres subalbatus and Culex quinquefasciatus (Diptera: Culicidae) – were calculated to justify species-specific differences in their life history strategies. Following repeated sampling of pupae from the respective larval habitats, the glycogen, sugar and lipid contents of individual mosquitoes were assessed and corroborated with pupal weight and adult wing length. Discriminant function analysis was used to acquire an initial reflection of the differences of the parameters among the sex and species of the mosquitoes considered in the study. Using logistic regression and ANOVA, the effects of species and sex as contributors to variations in energy reserves could be established. The results indicated that for all the mosquitoes, sex-specific differences were prominent with reference to the energy reserves. Species-specific differences in energy reserves reflect differences in resource acquisition and assimilation in the tissues, and thus the differences in the life history strategies of these four species.
Competitive interactions between coexisting Aedes aegypti and Ae. albopictus have been implied as a crucial factor shaping life history traits and population characteristics. The overlap in resource requirements and similarities in the life history strategies of the two Aedes mosquitoes form a basis for competitive interactions. In the present study, the role of the food quality of the larval habitats in influencing the outcome of competition between Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus is evaluated to highlight food quality as a basis for asymmetric competitive outcomes. Instar I larvae of the two mosquitoes were reared using conspecifics or heterospecifics of constant size and equal ratio with four different food types: boiled rice, boiled pulses, a mixture of boiled rice and pulses, and fish food. Competitive interactions were evaluated using age at pupation (AP), pupal weight (PW), dry adult weight (AW) and wing length (WL) with respect to intra- and interspecific competition for the two sexes of each mosquito species. The results show that Ae. albopictus developed faster but achieved a smaller size compared to Ae. aegypti under interspecific competition conditions, the extent of the difference varying significantly with the food type. Given the variety of food resources available in the small container larval habitats, the results of the study imply that food quality may act differentially with respect to larval development and adult body size, depending on the conspecifics or heterospecifics and on the sex of the species concerned. The dominance of one species over the other may also be a consequence of the resource utilization pattern that varies in the larval habitats.
Urban landscapes host a range of diverse plants that, in turn, facilitate maintenance of different species of pollinators, including butterflies. In this context, the importance of Lantana camara, an invasive plant species, was assessed highlighting its role in maintenance of butterfly diversity, using Kolkata, India as a study area. Initial study revealed consistent presence of L. camara in both urban and rural sites with at least 25 different butterfly species association. The proportional relative load and the preferences of butterfly species for the each plant species were inclined towards L. camara. Irrespective of the sites, the diurnal and seasonal variations in the butterfly species abundance varied with the flowering pattern of L. camara. A positive correlation of different butterfly species with the flowering time and number of L. camara was for all the sites. The segregation of the L. camara associated butterfly species was made following discriminant function analysis using the extent of flower density of L. camara as explanatory variable. Despite being an invasive species, it is apparent that L. camara can be a prospective host plant that facilitates sustenance of butterflies in both urban and rural sites. Thus, existence of L. camara in urban gardens and forests may prove beneficial in sustenance of the butterflies.
At a spatial scale, the diversity of butterflies varies with numerous factors including the availability of the host plant species. In parity with this proposition, the correspondence of diversity of butterfly and plant in the background of the urban–rural gradient was evaluated using Kolkata, India, as a model study area. The results reveal significant positive correlation between the diversity of butterflies and the plants, with the different values for the suburban, rural, and urban areas. Identification of the butterfly loads for the plants in the respective areas can be useful in enhancing the conservation of the butterflies through enhanced plantation of the concerned plant species. Alternatively, the disclosure of the generalist and specialist pattern of the plant species preference by the butterflies may be useful in enhancing the population of the respective species in the concerned areas. The conservation strategy for butterfly species may be refined through the use of both or any one of the quantitative assessment of the butterfly–plant links in the urban–rural gradient in Kolkata, India, and similar places in the world.