L.E. Gangoso de la Colina
J. Martínez-de la Puente
- Avian phenotypic traits related to feeding preferences in two Culex mosquitoes
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- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Host choice by mosquitoes affects the transmission dynamics of vector-borne infectious diseases. Although asymmetries in mosquito attraction to vertebrate species have been reported, the relative importance of host characteristics in mosquito blood-feeding behavior is still poorly studied. Here, we investigate the relationship between avian phenotypic traits—in particular, morphometry, plumage coloration, and nesting and roosting behavior—and the blood-feeding patterns in two common Culex mosquito species on a North American avian community. Forage ratios of the mosquito species were unrelated to the phylogenetic relationships among bird species. Culex pipiens fed preferably on birds with lighter-colored plumage and longer tarsi; furthermore, solitary roosting avian species were both bitten by Cx. pipiens and Cx. restuans more often than expected. These associations may be explained by greater mosquito attraction towards larger birds with a greater color contrast against the background. Although communally roosting birds may release more cues and attract more mosquitoes, individuals may in fact receive fewer bites due to the encounter-dilution effect. Mosquito feeding behavior is a highly complex phenomenon, and our results may improve understanding of the non-random interaction between birds and mosquitoes in natural communities.
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