Learning and natal host influence host preference, handling time and sex allocation behaviour in a pupal parasitoid
Morris, R. J. and Fellowes, M. (2002) Learning and natal host influence host preference, handling time and sex allocation behaviour in a pupal parasitoid. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 51 (4). pp. 386-393. ISSN 0340-5443
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s00265-001-0439-x
The host choice and sex allocation decisions of a foraging female parasitoid will have an enormous influence on the life-history characteristics of her offspring. The pteromalid Pachycrepoideus vindemiae is a generalist idiobiont pupal parasitoid of many species of cyclorrhaphous Diptera. Wasps reared in Musca domestica were larger, had higher attack rates and greater male mating success than those reared in Drosophila melanogaster. In no-choice situations, naive female R vindemiae took significantly less time to accept hosts conspecific with their natal host. Parasitoids that emerged from M. domestica pupae spent similar amounts of time ovipositing in both D. melanogaster and M. domestica. Those parasitoids that had emerged from D. melanogaster spent significantly longer attacking M. domestica pupae. The host choice behaviour of female P. vindemiae was influenced by an interaction between natal host and experience. Female R vindemiae reared in M. domestica only showed a preference among hosts when allowed to gain experience attacking M. domestica, preferentially attacking that species. Similarly, female parasitoids reared on D. melanogaster only showed a preference among hosts when allowed to gain experience attacking D. melanogaster, again preferentially attacking that species. Wasp natal host also influenced sex allocation behaviour. While wasps from both hosts oviposited more females in the larger host, M. domestica, wasps that emerged from M. domestica had significantly more male-biased offspring sex ratios. These results indicate the importance of learning and natal host size in determining R vindemiae attack rates. mating success, host preference and sex allocation behaviour, all critical components of parasitoid fitness.