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Oviposition Behaviour of Diphagous Parasitoids (Hymenoptera, Aphelinidae): a Case of Intersexual Resource Partitioning?

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Female diphagous parasitoids are endoparasitic as larvae, whereas their males are ectoparasitic. It is possible that males, during their development, eliminate competitors, and this has been proposed as the selective advantage to male ectoparasitism. In this way resources would be partitioned between the sexes. The hypothesis was tested experimentally by observation of whether mated females were capable of recognizing parasitized hosts, and whether they then deposited male eggs on them (because ectoparasitic larvae are supposed to be good competitors). The behaviour of individual Coccophagus bartletti ANNECKE & INSLEY (Aphelinidae) wasps did not follow prediction, and an alternative hypothesis is proposed. Selection pressures from the environment (e.g. host) need not be the same for both sexes, and if male eggs of the pre-diphagous aphelinid were treated differently at oviposition from female eggs (as is found in at least one extant species of aphelinid with otherwise conventional host relationships), a host shift at speciation could account for the divergence in host relationships of the sexes.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Zoology and Entomology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown 6140, South Africa


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