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Life history consequences of larval foraging depth differ between two competing Anopheles mosquitoes

Gimonneau G., Bayibéki A.N., Awono-Ambéné P., Simard F.. 2015. Ecological Entomology, 40 (2) : p. 143-149.

DOI: 10.1111/een.12163

1. Anopheline larvae are surface feeders and allocate most of their time to search for food at the water surface. However, species of the Anopheles gambiae Giles complex may also show bottom feeding. The consequences of this foraging tactic for life history are unknown, yet may be relevant to understand inter-specific competition patterns. 2. The diving ability and activity of larvae of the main African malaria vectors, An. coluzzii and An. gambiae, at two different water depths (14 and 30¿cm) were assessed. We further explored the biological relevance of diving for food harvesting by monitoring key life history traits in two species treatments (single or mixed species) and two food treatments (surface or bottom feeding). 3. Overall, An. coluzzii larvae showed more diving activity than An. gambiae. When feeding at the bottom both species, and especially An. gambiae, showed a delayed emergence and a reduced emergence rate. Moreover, An. gambiae also suffered a reduced wing length. 4. Mixed-species rearing had a detrimental effect on the life history traits of An. gambiae but not on An. coluzzii, suggesting a competitive advantage for the latter in our experimental conditions. 5. The present results confirm that anopheline larvae are able to forage for food at the bottom of their breeding site and that An. coluzzii shows a superior diving activity than An. gambiae and this at a lower cost. These behavioural differences probably reflect specific adaptations to different aquatic habitats, and may be important in shaping species distributions and the population biology of these important vector mosquitoes.

Mots-clés : anopheles; anopheles gambiae; larve; cameroun

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