The effects of food and space on the occurrence of cannibalism and predation among larvae of Anopheles gambiae s.l.

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Competitive interactions among the aquatic stages of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.l. (Diptera: Culicidae) may affect the resulting adult densities and, hence, the risk of malaria. We investigated the impact of the presence of a fourth-instar larva (An. gambiae Giles s.s. or An. arabiensis Patton), the quantity of food, and the available space on the survival and development of freshly hatched larvae of An. gambiae s.s. and An. arabiensis. To analyse the results, two proportional hazard models were constructed. The first estimated the effects of all covariates on mortality rate and the second estimated the effects of the covariates on development rate into the third larval instar (L3). A time-dependent covariate for density, which changed during the experiment as a result of death or development to L3, was included in both models. In the presence of a fourth-instar larva (L4), survival of the experimental larvae was significantly reduced, but no difference was detected between the presence of L4 An. gambiae and L4 An. arabiensis. The observation that the majority of dead larvae were not recovered in trays with an L4 present suggested that cannibalism and predation occurred readily. Limitation in space significantly increased mortality of larvae, whereas a limitation of food reduced larval development rate, but did not cause mortality per se. From this, we concluded that both cannibalism and predation were enhanced as a result of more frequent interactions within smaller environments, but did not occur for reasons of food shortage. This study shows that inter- and intraspecific interactions among larvae of the An. gambiae complex strongly affect survival and development, and that the quantity of food and the available space are important determinants of the outcome of these interactions. Implications of the results are discussed with respect to the population dynamics of both malaria vectors in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-134
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • aedes-aegypti
  • giles complex
  • kisumu area
  • body-size
  • interspecific competition
  • intraspecific competition
  • growth retardant
  • culicidae larvae
  • sensu-stricto
  • species-b


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