The potential of Ireland’s native three-spined stickleback (Gasterostues aculeatus) for the biological control of mosquito larvae (subfamily: Culicinae) in Ballyvergan Marsh, Youghal, Co. Cork
Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork
Marshes provide suitable habitats for larval development of nuisance and vector mosquitoes worldwide. Ecological and ecotoxicological consequences of traditional methods have forced mosquito management to less destructive approaches such as Open Marsh Water Management (OMWM); a technique that promotes larval control by tidal flushing and giving native predatory fish access to isolated larval habitats. However, management schemes such as OMWM are rare in European marshes and non-existent in Ireland. Ballyvergan marsh is a coastal marsh located on the south-east coast of Ireland that supports populations of threespined stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus, within a tidal creek and Aedes and Culex mosquito larvae (Subfamily: Culicinae) in isolated, brackish pools. A field study was conducted to determine the biological control potential of three-spined sticklebacks against mosquito larvae by investigating 1) the predator-prey interactions between three-spined sticklebacks and Culicinae larvae in three different sub-habitats of the marsh 2) the functional response of threespined sticklebacks in brackish and freshwater 3) the consumption rates as a function of group size. All experiments were conducted in controlled in situ conditions using 10L plastic buckets with mesh windows. Sticklebacks showed strong biological control potential, consuming larvae across different sub-habitats of the marsh. A Type Ⅱ functional response in brackish and freshwater was identified with an estimated maximum consumption rate of 429 ± 32 larvae per pair of sticklebacks in 24 hours. It is suggested that management methods, such as OMWM would control local mosquito populations in Ballyvergan marsh through predation by threespined sticklebacks. There is an increasing emphasis on the need to apply ecologically sound mosquito control solutions, as the risk of re-emerging vector-borne diseases in Europe continues to rise with climate change.
Three-spined stickleback , Culicinae , Gasterostues aculeatus , Ballyvergan Marsh , Youghal
Walsh, K. (2021) The potential of Ireland’s native three-spined stickleback (Gasterostues aculeatus) for the biological control of mosquito larvae (subfamily: Culicinae) in Ballyvergan Marsh, Youghal, Co. Cork. Cork: Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork.
©2021, Katrina Walsh.