The molecular form composition of Anopheles gambiae Giles s.s. (Diptera: Culicidae) mating swarms and the associated mating pairs (copulae) were investigated during two rainy seasons (July to October, 2005 and July to November, 2006) in the villages of Soumousso and Vallée du Kou (VK7). Although the habitats of these villages differ markedly, sympatric populations of M and S molecular forms of An. gambiae s.s. occur in both places periodically. The main aim was to assess the degree to which these molecular forms mate assortatively. In Soumousso, a wooded savannah habitat, the majority of swarm samples consisted of only S-form males (21/28), although a few M-form males were found in mixed M- and S-form swarms. In VK7, a rice growing area, the majority of swarm samples consisted of only M-form males (38/62), until October and November 2006, when there were nearly as many mixed-form as single-form swarms. Overall, ∼60% of M- and S-form swarms were temporally or spatially segregated; the two forms were effectively prevented from encountering each other. Of the remaining 40% of swarms, however, only about half were single-form and the rest were mixed-form. Of the 33 copulae collected from mixed-form swarms, only four were mixed-form pairs, significantly fewer than expected by random pairing between forms (χ(2) = 10.34, d.f. = 2, P < 0.01). Finally, all specimens of inseminated females were of the same form as the sperm contained within their spermatheca (n = 91), even for the four mixed-form copulae. These findings indicate that assortative mating occurs within mixed-form swarms, mediated most probably by close-range mate recognition cues.
Keywords: Anopheles gambiae s.s.; Burkina Faso; assortative mating; mate recognition; mating behaviour; mixed swarm; molecular forms.
© 2013 The Royal Entomological Society.