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Vector ecology is integral to understanding the transmission of vector-borne diseases, with processes such as reproduc- tion and competition pivotal in determining vector presence and abundance. The arbovirus vectors Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus compete as larvae, but this mechanism is insufficient to explain patterns of coexistence and exclu- sion. Inviable interspecies matings - known as reproductive interference - is another candidate mechanism. Here, we analyse mathematical models of mosquito population dynamics and epidemiology which include two Aedes-specific features of reproductive interference. First, as these mosquitoes use hosts to find mates, reproductive interference will only occur if the same host is visited. Host choice will, in turn, be determined by behavioural responses to host availability. Second, females can become sterilised after mis-mating with heterospecifics. We find that a species with an affinity for a shared host will suffer more from reproductive interference than a less selective competitor. Costs from reproductive interference can be “traded-off” against costs from larval competition, leading to competitive outcomes difficult to predict from empirical evidence. Sterilisations of a self-limiting species can counter-intuitively lead to higher densities than a competitor suffering less sterilisation. We identify that behavioural responses and reproductive interference mediate a concomitant relationship between vector ecological dynamics and epidemiology. Competitors with opposite behavioural responses can maintain disease where human hosts are rare, due to vector coexistence facilitated by a reduced cost from reproductive interference. Our work elucidates the relative roles of the competitive mechanisms governing Aedes populations and the associated epidemiological consequences.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Publisher

Royal Society, The