Convergent evolution of intraguild predation in phytotelm-inhabiting mosquitoes

Stanislas Talaga 1, * Céline Leroy 1 Régis Cereghino 2 Alain Dejean 1
* Corresponding author
2 EcoLab (équipe ECSECO) - Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement
INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, EcoLab (ENSAT-Bat B) - Laboratoire Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement
Abstract : Intraguild predation (IGP) is a type of biological interaction involving the killing and consuming of competing species that exploit similar and often limited resources. This phenomenon is widespread among a great variety of taxonomic groups and has already been reported for mosquito (Diptera: Culicidae) larvae. Moreover, the larvae of certain mosquito species of the tribe Sabethini have evolved modified mouthparts ending in rigid apical structures signaling their capacity to be effective intraguild predators. We assumed that IGP confers a selective advantage under severe competitive conditions by both providing an immediate energetic gain and reducing potential competition. Because potential competition is likely to increase with decreasing habitat size, we hypothesized that the proportion of species with modified mouthparts would increase in smaller aquatic habitats. We tested this hypothesis by examining the mosquito species naturally associated with phytotelmata of decreasing sizes in French Guiana. We show that the degree of specialization in mosquito-phytotelm associations is high, suggesting a long coevolutive process. Indeed, short-term interaction experiments confirmed that species with modified mouthparts are able to prey upon similarly-sized intraguild prey and are, thus, effective intraguild predators. In addition, these species are larger and associated with smaller phytotelmata than those with typical mouthparts. Moreover, below a certain threshold of phytotelm size, only species with modified mouthparts were present. These results show that IGP confers a selective advantage under severe competitive conditions and results from the coadaptation of mosquito species to their specific phytotelm habitat. The presence of functionally analogous structures in different mosquito genera also implies that IGP has emerged from convergent evolution in small phytotelmata.
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Stanislas Talaga, Céline Leroy, Régis Cereghino, Alain Dejean. Convergent evolution of intraguild predation in phytotelm-inhabiting mosquitoes. Evolutionary Ecology, Springer Verlag, 2016, 30 (6), pp.1133-1147. ⟨10.1007/s10682-016-9862-3⟩. ⟨hal-01603304⟩



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