Flight tone of field-collected populations of Anopheles gambiae and An. arabiensis (Diptera: Culicidae)
Abstract.Laboratory colonies of the human malaria vectors Anopheles gambiae Giles and An. arabiensis Patton have distinct flight tones. If flight tone similarly distinguishes natural populations of these sympatric sibling species, it may play a role in reproductive isolation of swarms that are otherwise behaviourally identical. To assess the fidelity of flight tone differences in natural populations, flight tone was measured in the F1 progeny of mosquitoes of both species captured in western Kenya. Flight tone distributions of wild An. gambiae and An. arabiensis were similar to their laboratory conspecifics. However, interspecies comparisons of flight tone of wild mosquitoes revealed significantly different but overlapping distributions for both sexes. Furthermore, when the effect of body size on flight tone was determined, there was a positive correlation between wing length and flight tone for both sexes of An. gambiae and An. arabiensis, suggesting that mosquito size is a significant variable affecting flight tone. Although these findings diminish any practical benefit of flight tone as a diagnostic tool in species identification, its potential role in pre-mating species recognition needs further investigation.