Submitted to: Journal of Medical Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/29/2013
Publication Date: 5/13/2013
Citation: Butail, S., Manoukis, N., Diallo, M., Ribeiro, J., Paley, D. 2013. The Dance of Male Anopheles gambiae in Mating Swarms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 552-559. Interpretive Summary: This paper describes results of 3D measurements of male Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes in natural swarms over time (tracking). We show that the movement of males in these mating aggregations is different in the horizontal versus vertical directions and also that the movement patterns can be modeled as a simple pendulum. In addition, we examine the coordination between neighboring mosquito males.
Technical Abstract: The mating behavior of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae is of great interest from a fundamental and applied perspective. One of the most important elements of mating in this species is the crepuscular mating aggregation (swarm) composed almost entirely of males, where most coupling and insemination is believed to occur. In this study we characterize the movement of male An. gambiae using three-dimensional trajectory data of ten wild mosquito swarms filmed in Mali, Africa. We show two new results. First, by modeling the movement of a mosquito as a damped harmonic oscillator and calculating its velocity autocorrelation in three spatial dimensions, we show that the vertical component of the mosquito motion is overdamped with an average natural frequency below 0.5 Hz, whereas the horizontal motion is underdamped with more than double the average natural frequency. In high wind, both the vertical and horizontal motions are underdamped and the average natural frequencies are the highest. Second, we show that the predicted average disagreement in the direction of motion of individual uncoordinated mosquitoes in a model swarm is greater than the average disagreement we observed between each mosquito and its three closest neighbors, with the smallest level of disagreement occurring for the nearest neighbor in seven out of ten swarms. In high wind, the alignment of the direction of motion between nearest neighbors is the highest.