2014. július 18., péntek

Yang et al. (2012) PLoS One

Destructive host-feeding is common in hymenopteran parasitoids. Such feeding may be restricted to host stages not preferred for oviposition. However, whether this is a fixed strategy or can vary according to resource levels or parasitoid needs is less clear. We tested the trade-off between host feeding and oviposition on two whitefly parasitoids under varying host densities. Females of two aphelinid parasitoids, Eretmocerus hayati and Encarsia sophia were exposed to nine different densities of their whitefly host, Bemisia tabaci, in single-instar tests to identify their functional response. Mixed-instar host choice tests were also conducted by exposing whiteflies at four densities to the parasitoids. We hypothesized that the parasitoid females can detect different host densities, and decide on oviposition vs. host-feeding accordingly. The results showed that both Er. hayati and En. sophia females tended to increase both oviposition and host-feeding with increased host density within a certain range. Oviposition reached a plateau at lower host density than host-feeding in Er. hayati, while En. sophia reached its oviposition plateau at higher densities. At low densities, Er. hayati parasitized most on first and second (the optimal ones), and fed most on third nymphal instars (the suboptimal one) of the whitefly host as theory predicts, while at high densities, both parasitism and host-feeding occurred on first and second instars which are preferred for oviposition. En. sophia parasitized most on third and fourth (the optimal ones), while fed on first instars (the suboptimal one) at low densities, and utilized third and fourth instars for both at high densities. In conclusion, oviposition vs. host-feeding strategy of parasitoid females was found to vary at different host densities. The balance between reserving optimal hosts for oviposition or using them for host-feeding depended on parasitoid life history and the availability of host resources.

parasitoids, host feeding, life history strategies

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