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J Med Entomol. 2009 Mar;46(2):227-35.

Structure and dynamics of male swarms of Anopheles gambiae.

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  • 1Section of Vector Biology, Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-8132, USA.


Mosquito swarms are poorly understood mating aggregations. In the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae Giles, they are known to depend on environmental conditions, such as the presence of a marker on the ground, and they may be highly relevant to reproductive isolation. We present quantitative measurements of individual An. gambiae positions within swarms from Donéguébougou, Mali, estimated by stereoscopic video image analysis. Results indicate that swarms in this species are approximately spherical, with an unexpectedly high density of individuals close to the swarm centroid. This high density may be the result of individual males maximizing their probability of encountering a female or a product of mosquito orientation through cues within the swarm. Our analysis also suggests a difference in swarm organization between putative incipient species of An. gambiae with increasing numbers of males. This may be related to a difference in marker use between these groups, supporting the hypothesis that swarming behavior is a mechanism of mate recognition and ultimately reproductive isolation.

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