Size, not temperature, drives cyclopoid copepod predation of invasive mosquito larvae.
During range expansion, invasive species can experience new thermal regimes. Differences between the thermal performance of local and invasive species can alter species interactions, including predator-prey interactions. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is a known vector of several viral diseases of public health importance. It has successfully invaded many regions across the globe and currently threatens to invade regions of the UK where conditions would support seasonal activity. We assessed the functional response and predation efficiency (percentage of prey consumed) of the cyclopoid copepods Macrocyclops albidus and Megacyclops viridis from South East England, UK against newly-hatched French Ae. albopictus larvae across a relevant temperature range (15, 20, and 25°C). Predator-absent controls were included in all experiments to account for background prey mortality. We found that both M. albidus and M. viridis display type II functional response curves, and that both would therefore be suitable biocontrol agents in the event of an Ae. albopictus invasion in the UK. No significant effect of temperature on the predation interaction was detected by either type of analysis. However, the predation efficiency analysis did show differences due to predator species. The results suggest that M. viridis would be a superior predator against invasive Ae. albopictus larvae due to the larger size of this copepod species, relative to M. albidus. Our work highlights the importance of size relationships in predicting interactions between invading prey and local predators.