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Responses of adult mosquitoes of two sibling species, Anopheles arabiensis and A. gambiae s.s. (Diptera: Culicidae), to high temperatures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

M.J. Kirby
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Durham, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
S.W. Lindsay*
School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Durham, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK
*Fax: +44 (0)191 334 1179 E-mail:


It is well known that amongst the sibling species of the Anopheles gambiae complex, A. arabiensis Patton predominates over A. gambiae sensu stricto Giles in hotter, drier parts of Africa. Here it was investigated whether A. arabiensis is better adapted to higher temperatures than A. gambiae s.s. at the microclimatic level. Bioassays were used to assess behavioural avoidance activity of adult mosquitoes in the presence of increasing temperature. Female mosquitoes were introduced into a holding tube from which they could escape into a cage through a one-way funnel. From a starting temperature of 28°C they were exposed to a 2°C rise in temperature every 30 min until all mosquitoes had escaped or been knocked down. As temperature increased, A. arabiensis left the holding tube at higher temperatures than A. gambiae s.s. (A. arabiensis mean activation temperature = 35.7°C, 95% CIs = 35.4–36.1°C; A. gambiae s.s. = 33.0°C, 32.5–33.5°C). To determine the relative ability of both species to survive at extremely high temperatures, batches of insects were exposed to 40°C for different periods. It took considerably longer to kill 50% of A. arabiensis at 40°C than it did A. gambiae s.s. (112 min vs. 67 min). These data show that adult A. arabiensis are better adapted to hotter conditions than A. gambiae s.s., a characteristic that is reflected in their spatial and temporal distribution in Africa.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2004

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