Reduced survival and future reproduction due to of current reproduction is a trade-off known as the cost of reproduction. Surprisingly, only a few studies have assessed the cost of reproduction in arthropod disease vectors, despite its effect on longevity, and thus on vectorial capacity. We evaluated the cost of reproduction on survival of Anopheles gambiae Giles by comparing mosquitoes that were denied exposure to the other sex, hereafter named virgins, and those that were allowed exposure to the other sex and mating, hereafter named mated. Merely 6 d of exposure to females with mating activity reduced male survival from a median of 17 d in virgins to 15 d in mated, indicating that male mating cost is substantial. The increase in mortality of mated males began several days after the exposure to females ended, indicating that mating is not associated with immediate mortality risk. Notably, body size was negatively correlated with male mortality in mated males, but not in virgins. The rate of insemination declined after 4 d of exposure to females, indicating that male mating capacity is limited and further supporting the hypothesis that mating is costly for males. Consistent with previous studies, female survival on sugar alone (median = 16 d) was shorter than on blood and sugar (median = 19 d), regardless if she was mated or virgin. Overall, survival of mated females was lower than that of virgins on a diet of blood and sugar, but no difference was found on a diet of sugar only. However, the cost of reproduction in females remains ambiguous because the difference in survival between virgin and mated females was driven by the difference between virgin (median = 19 d) and uninseminated females exposed to males (median = 17 d), rather than between virgin and inseminated females (median = 19 d). Accordingly, sperm and seminal fluid, egg development, and oviposition have negligible cost in terms of female survival. Only exposure to males without insemination decreased female survival, Nonetheless, if exposure to males under natural conditions is also associated with reduced survival, it might explain why females remain monogamous.
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Vol. 47 • No. 5