• Anopheles gambiae;
  • community structure;
  • hydro-periodicity;
  • larval habitat;
  • niche partitioning;
  • segregation

In West Africa, lineage splitting between the M and S molecular forms of the major Afro-tropical malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae (Diptera: Culicidae), is thought to be driven by ecological divergence, occurring mainly at the larval stage. Here, we present evidence for habitat segregation between the two molecular forms in and around irrigated rice fields located within the humid savannahs of western Burkina Faso. Longitudinal sampling of adult mosquitoes emerging from a range of breeding sites distributed along a transect extending from the heart of the rice field area into the surrounding savannah was conducted from June to November 2009. Analysis revealed that the two molecular forms and their sibling species Anopheles arabiensis are not randomly distributed in the area. A major ecological gradient was extracted in relation to the perimeter of the rice fields. The M form was associated with larger breeding sites mostly consisting of rice paddies, whereas the S form and An. arabiensis were found to depend upon temporary, rain-filled breeding sites. These results support hypotheses about larval habitat segregation and confirm the suggestion that the forms have different larval habitat requirements. Segregation appears to be clearly linked to anthropogenic permanent habitats and the community structure they support.