Two 6-wk trials were conducted in 28-m2 earthen ponds to compare the efficacy of the arroyo chub, Gila orcutti, to the mosquitofish, Gambusia affinis, as a biological control agent for mosquitoes and a possible replacement for the mosquitofish in sensitive watersheds of southern California. The mosquitofish population growth rate was 1.73 times greater than the arroyo chub population growth rate; however, greater reproduction by the mosquitofish did not result in significantly better reduction of mosquitoes than was provided by the comparatively small populations of arroyo chub. On average across a 6-wk study in the spring, both larvivorous fishes reduced the abundance of 3rd and 4th instars by 4- to 5-fold compared to that observed in the control ponds that lacked fish but contained few invertebrate predators. The abundance of nontarget microinvertebrates in ponds containing the mosquitofish was only 7% of that in ponds containing the arroyo chub during the summer, but did not differ significantly between the fish species treatments when zooplankton was comparatively more abundant during the spring. Even though the number of individuals produced by each fish species during 6 wk in the spring was greater than for fish stocked in the summer, species-specific population growth rates in the spring study (individuals/individual/d; mosquitofish, 0.077; arroyo chub, 0.044) were only slightly higher than in the summer (individuals/individual/d; mosquitofish, 0.068; arroyo chub, 0.039) indicating that differences in the number of fish stocked contributed primarily to the differences in final population size between spring and summer studies. The arroyo chub is native to the South Coastal drainages in California and should be considered as a viable alternative to the mosquitofish for integrated mosquito management programs in riverine wetlands and sensitive watersheds of southern California.
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Vol. 23 • No. 4