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Indirect Mutual Interference in Parasitoids

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Mutual interference, i. e. any kind of interaction between predators or parasitoids reducing searching efficiency, is potentially able to stabilize the dynamics of predator-prey or parasite-host systems. It is often considered to be the result of direct behavioural interaction between adults in which search time is wasted. Due to this loss of time, such "direct" mutual interference has an immediate effect on the searching efficiency in the patch. Here, we show that the solitary parasitoid Leptopilina heterotoma, in contrast to earlier findings, does not exhibit direct mutual interference. Yet, because of the occurrence of superparasitism and the consequent increase in patch time, searching efficiency at the population level clearly decreases. This we call indirect mutual interference, because it is not reflected in a decrease in the searching efficiency at the patch level. Using a simple population model we show that it is different from pseudo-interference. Other forms of indirect mutual interference are sex ratio shifts and decreasing fecundity. If such phenomena are to be included into the concept of interference, other criteria than the classical searching efficiency should be developed in order to assess the significance of these phenomena on the dynamics of populations.

Affiliations: 1: (Department of Population Biology, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, the Netherlands


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