Quantitative analysis of harmonic convergence in mosquito auditory interactions

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This article analyses the hearing and behaviour of mosquitoes in the context of inter-individual acoustic interactions. The acoustic interactions of tethered live pairs of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, from same and opposite sex mosquitoes of the species, are recorded on independent and unique audio channels, together with the response of tethered individual mosquitoes to playbacks of pre-recorded flight tones of lone or paired individuals. A time-dependent representation of each mosquito's non-stationary wing beat frequency signature is constructed, based on Hilbert spectral analysis. A range of algorithmic tools is developed to automatically analyse these data, and used to perform a robust quantitative identification of the `harmonic convergence' phenomenon.

The results suggest that harmonic convergence is an active phenomenon, which does not occur by chance. It occurs for live pairs, as well as for lone individuals responding to playback recordings, whether from the same or opposite sex. Male-female behaviour is dominated by frequency convergence at a wider range of harmonic combinations than previously reported, and requires participation from both partners in the duet. New evidence is found to show that male-male interactions are more varied than strict frequency avoidance. Rather, they can be divided into two groups: convergent pairs, typified by tightly bound wing-beat frequencies, and divergent pairs, that remain widely spaced in the frequency domain.

Overall, the results reveal that mosquito acoustic interaction is a delicate and intricate time-dependent active process that involves both individuals, takes place at many different frequencies, and which merits further enquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20151007
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number117
Early online date1 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2016

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Mathematics Research Group


  • Bioacoustics
  • Acoustic signal processing
  • Hearing
  • Active audition


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