Coexistence of competitors may result if resources are sufficiently abundant to render competition unimportant, or if species differ in resource requirements. Detritus type has been shown to affect interspecific competitive outcomes between Aedes albopictus (Skuse) and Aedes aegypti (L.) larvae under controlled conditions. We assessed the relationships among spatial distributions of detritus types, nutrients, and aquatic larvae of these species in nature. We collected mosquitoes, water, and detritus from artificial containers across 24 Florida cemeteries that varied in relative abundances of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. We measured nutrient content of fine particulate organic matter in water samples as total N, P, and C and ratios of these nutrients. We quantified food availability via a bioassay, raising individual Aedes larvae in the laboratory in standard volumes of field-collected, particulate-containing water from each cemetery. Quantities of detritus types collected in standard containers were significant predictors of nutrients and nutrient ratios. Nutrient abundances were significant predictors of relative abundance of Ae. aegypti, and of larval survival and development by both species in the bioassay. Survival and development of larvae reared in particulate-containing water from sites decreased with decreasing relative abundance of Ae. aegypti. These data suggest that N, P, and C availabilities are determined by detritus inputs to containers and that these nutrients in turn determine the feeding environment encountered by larvae, the intensity of interspecific competition among larvae, and subsequent relative abundances of species at sites. Detritus inputs, nutrients, and food availability thus seem to contribute to distributions of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus in cemetery containers throughout Florida.
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