Population and community processes: I have a long-standing collaboration with colleagues Phil Lounibos, George O’Meara (University of Florida, Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory) on a project on the invasion biology of Aedes albopictus. This species has spread rapidly in much of the eastern US, and has diplaced Aedes aegypti at many sites in the southeast. Replacement suggests competitive exclusion, but past laboratory studies of these species failed to show a competitive advantage for A. albopictus. This paradox has led to alternative hypotheses for the mechanism by which A. albopictus replaces A. aegypti, including the hypothesis that apparent competition via shared ascogregarine parasites causes the disadvantage for A. aegypti. What is the mechanism leading replacement of a resident species by an invader? We are also investigating physical factors, such as effects of temperature, water chemistry, and desiccation, that may affect the interaction between these species, in an effort to understand why A. aegypti is able to persist in some locations but not in others.
In a related project, we have investigated the processes that organize north temperate communities of container dwelling insects. In this project, our main focus is on the role of habitat drying as it affects species interactions and community composition. What are the roles of physical factors like habitat drying in container communities?
Predation, behavior, and life history: My students and I have studied indirect effect of predation by larvae of the mosquito Toxorhynchites rutilus on the behavior and life history of larvae of another mosquito, Aedes triseriatus. More active larvae of A. triseriatus are more likely to be captured by this predator. Though populations of A. triseriatus vary in behavior, interpopulation differences in behavior are unrelated to local presence or absence of the predator. Further, some mosquito species show behavioral change in response to cues from predation