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Anopheline Mosquito Survival Strategies During the Dry Period in Western Kenya

Noboru Minakawa, John I. Githure, John C. Beier, Guiyun Yan
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-38.3.388 388-392 First published online: 1 May 2001


The dry season survival mechanism of Anopheles gambiae Giles is one of the most vexing deficiencies in our understanding of the biology of the major malaria vectors. In this study, we examined the dynamics of anopheline adult mosquitoes, their larval habitats, and egg survival potential during the dry season in the basin region of Lake Victoria, western Kenya. Through field surveys, we demonstrated two survival strategies of An. gambiae sensu stricto during the dry season: continuous reproduction throughout the year and embryo dormancy in moist soil for at least several days. We further demonstrated that An. gambiae shows a strong preference for moist soil as an oviposition substrate rather than dry soil substrate under the insectary conditions. The observation that anopheline eggs remain a dormant stage to resist desiccation clearly contrasts the conventional wisdom that anopheline eggs hatch shortly after they are laid. Our results from western Kenya are consistent with the suggestion that anopheline mosquitoes do not necessarily suffer a severe population bottleneck during the dry season and thus maintain a large effective population size.

  • Anopheles gambiae
  • larval ecology
  • population dynamics
  • dry-season survival strategy
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