Competitive interactions between larvae of the malaria mosquitoes Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles gambiae under semi-field conditions in western Kenya

Krijn P. Paaijmans, Silvie Huijben, Andrew K. Githeko, Willem Takken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations


The present paper reports the occurrence of competition between larvae of the malaria mosquito sibling species Anopheles arabiensis and An. gambiae under ambient conditions in western Kenya. Larvae of both species were reared at the same density and under the same food conditions outdoors in single-species and mixed-species populations (species ratio 1:1) in transparent cups that floated in small and large semi-natural pools, which experienced different diurnal variations in water temperature. In a second experiment, both species were reared at similar densities and under the same food conditions in trays in either single-species or mixed-species populations at different proportions (species ratio 1:1, 1:3 or 3:1). Competition affected the development rate of both species in an opposite way: the development time of larvae of An. arabiensis increased whereas the development time of larvae of An. gambiae decreased in the presence of its sibling species. In small pools larvae developing in mixed-species populations experienced a higher mortality than larvae reared in single-species populations, whereas no such effect was observed in the large pools. In both species the time to pupation was longer and emerging females were larger in the small pools. Larval mortality of An. arabiensis was lower in the small pools compared to the large pools, whereas An. gambiae showed the opposite trend. Overall An. arabiensis showed reduced development rates, higher mortality rates and emerged with a larger body size compared to An. gambiae. The implication of these competitive interactions between larvae of An. arabiensis and An. gambiae under semi-filed conditions needs to be considered in the design and implementation of programmes that aim to reduce malaria transmission as competition may alter the species composition in the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Development time
  • Immature mosquitoes
  • Interspecific competition
  • Intraspecific competition
  • Mortality
  • Sibling species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases

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