Size, sounds, and sex: interactions between body size and harmonic convergence signals determine mating success in Aedes aegypti

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Title: Size, sounds, and sex: interactions between body size and harmonic convergence signals determine mating success in Aedes aegypti
Authors: Cator, LJ
Zacharo, Z
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Background: Several new mosquito control strategies will involve the release of laboratory reared males which will be required to compete with wild males for mates. Currently, the determinants of male mating success remain unclear. The presence of convergence between male and female harmonic flight tone frequencies during a mating attempt have been found to increase male mating success in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Size has also been implicated as a factor in male mating success. Here we investigated the relationships between body size, harmonic convergence signalling, and mating success. We predicted that harmonic convergence would be an important determinant of mating success and that large individuals would be more likely to converge. Methods: We used diet to manipulate male and female body size and then measured acoustic interactions during mating attempts between pairs of different body sizes. Additionally, we used playback experiments to measure the direct effect of size on signalling performance. Results: In live pair interactions, harmonic convergence was again found to be a significant predictor of copula formation. However, we additionally found interactions between harmonic convergence behaviour and body size. The probability that a given male successfully formed a copula was a consequence of his size, the size of the female encountered, and whether or not they converged. While convergence appears to be predictive of mating success regardless of size, the positive effect of convergence was modulated by size combinations. In playbacks, adult body size did not affect the probability of harmonic convergence responses. Conclusions: Both body size and harmonic convergence signalling were found to be determinants of male mating success. Our results suggest that in addition to measuring convergence ability of mass release lines that the size distribution of released males may need to be adjusted to complement the size distribution of females. We also found that diet amount alone cannot be used to increase male mating success or convergence probability. A clearer understanding of convergence behaviours, their relationship to mating success, and factors influencing convergence ability would provide the groundwork for improving the mating performance of laboratory reared lines.
Issue Date: 1-Dec-2016
Date of Acceptance: 16-Nov-2016
ISSN: 1756-3305
Publisher: BioMed Central
Journal / Book Title: Parasites & Vectors
Volume: 9
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s). 2016 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Sponsor/Funder: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
National Institutes of Health
Funder's Grant Number: BB/N003594/1
Keywords: 1108 Medical Microbiology
1117 Public Health And Health Services
Mycology & Parasitology
Tropical Medicine
Publication Status: Published
Article Number: 622
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences

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