International Journal of Pure and Applied Zoology

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Prey Selectivity And Efficient Biocontrol of Dengue By Guppies: Effects of Alternative Prey and Habitat Complexity

This paper focuses on the foraging behaviour of guppy, Poecilia reticulata (Peters, 1859), in the presence of alternative prey, for dengue control efficacy. Predatory potentiality of the fish was studied in a three prey system under different habitat conditions alone or along with two and four conspecifics. The number of Aedes larvae consumed in comparison to other prey types (tubificid worms and vegetables) was noted and an index of prey selectivity was used to evaluate the preference for Aedes larvae. Foraging experiments were attempted in the laboratory. The study revealed a strong and consistent preference to tubificid worms (selectivity coefficients >0.33, t(5)= 8.08; p < 0.001) in a simple habitat three-prey system. However, mosquito larvae (selectivity coefficients >0.33, t (5)= 6.74; p < 0.01) were consumed readily when habitat complexity increased. Presence of conspecifics affected male foraging behaviour similarly with Aedes larvae as preferred prey in complex habitat and tubificid larvae in simple habitat. Significant difference of niche breadth (t (17) = 5.92; p < 0.001) between simple and complex habitat reflecting shift of prey selection pattern by fish. Consumption rate of different prey types varied with the predator densities in both habitats. The present study would justify the interaction between social and habitat factors affected prey preference and have important implications for the efficacy of poeciliids in bio control of dengue. However, field studies including other prey species will be required to substantiate this finding.

Author(s): S. Sanyal,S. Ghosh