Larval density dependence in Anopheles gambiae s.s., the major African vector of malaria



  1. Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto is the most important vector of malaria in Africa although relatively little is known about the density-dependent processes determining its population size.
  2. Mosquito larval density was manipulated under semi-natural conditions using artificial larval breeding sites placed in the field in coastal Kenya; two experiments were conducted: one manipulating the density of a single cohort of larvae across a range of densities and the other employing fewer densities but with the treatments crossed with four treatments manipulating predator access.
  3. In the first experiment, larval survival, development rate and the size of the adult mosquito all decreased with larval density (controlling for block effects between 23% and 31% of the variance in the data could be explained by density).
  4. In the second experiment, the effects of predator manipulation were not significant, but again we observed strong density dependence in larval survival (explaining 30% of the variance).
  5. The results are compared with laboratory studies of A. gambiae larval competition and the few other studies conducted in the field, and the consequences for malaria control are discussed