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Host Density Signal in Relation To Aggregation in the Parasitoid Venturia Canescens

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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).

The aggregation of predators in response to prey that is heterogeneously distributed is a central issue of population dynamics. Although it is generally agreed that ultimately the aggregative response is a consequence of individual decision making, most models traditionally assume a simplified scenario for the predators foraging behaviour. Recent work has drawn attention to the importance of more detailed knowledge on the foraging behaviour leading to aggregation at the population level. A theoretical model concluded that a condition necessary for stability is that parasitoids respond to the absolute differences between patches, irrespective of the systems richness. In this work I have studied the aggregative behaviour of the parasitic wasp venturia canescens Gravenhorst (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) to a patchy distribution of its host, Plodia interpunctella Hubner (Lepidoptera: Pyrallidae) in order to test the prediction that a parasitoid's foraging pattern is more affected by absolute than by relative patch values. In a 3-patch-experimental arena (the system) I manipulated the density and distribution of hosts within each patch and recorded parasitoid patch residence time and parasitisation rates. The results confirm that this parasitoid is sensitive to system host abundance and that its host density signal (sensu MURDOCH & STEWART OATEN, 1989) is closer to the relative than to the absolute patch value.

Affiliations: 1: School of Biological Sciences, University College of North Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd, U.K.


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