Tadpoles and mosquito larvae often coexist in natural freshwater bodies. We studied competitive interactions between: (i) tadpoles of the striped marsh frog (Limnodynastes peronii) and larvae of the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus; and (ii) tadpoles of the common eastern froglet (Crinia signifera) and larvae of the mosquito Aedes australis. These two sets of taxa occur in natural water bodies in the Sydney region. Laboratory trials revealed competition between mosquito larvae and tadpoles in both systems. For example, mosquitoes displayed reduced rates of survival, growth and development, and smaller size at metamorphosis, when they were raised with tadpoles. The intensity of competitive suppression was influenced by attributes such as pond size (and hence, larval density), the location of food (on the water surface vs the substrate), and the extent of opportunities for direct physical interactions between the two competing organisms. These effects differed between the two study systems, suggesting that the mechanisms of suppression also differed. Limnodynastes peronii tadpoles suppressed C. quinquefasciatus even when the two types of organisms were separated by a physical partition, suggesting that chemical or microbiological cues may be responsible. Pond attributes also affected the impact of C. signifera tadpoles on Aedes larvae, but (unlike the Limnodynastes-Culex system) these effects disappeared when densities were lowered or when the tadpoles and mosquito larvae were physically separated. Thus, direct physical interactions may suppress mosquitoes in the Crinia-Aedes system. Our results suggest that tadpoles suppress the viability of larval mosquitoes by multiple pathways.
- Interspecific competition