Comparing and contrasting development and reproductive strategies in the pupal hyperparasitoids Lysibia nana and Gelis agilis (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)

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    In most animals, the optimal phenotype is determined by trade-offs in life-history traits. Here, I compare development and reproductive strategies in two species of solitary secondary hyperparasitoids, Lysibia nana and Gelis agilis, attacking pre-pupae of their primary parasitoid host, Cotesia glomerata. Parasitoid larvae of both species exploit a given amount of host resources with similar efficiency. However, adults exhibit quite different reproductive strategies. Both species are synovigenic, and female wasps emerge with no mature eggs. However, G. agilis must first host-feed to produce eggs, while L. nana does not host-feed but mobilizes internal resources carried over from larval feeding to initiate oogenesis. Further, G. agilis is wingless, produces large eggs, has a long life-span, and generates only small numbers of progeny per day, whereas these traits are reversed in L. nana. Given unlimited hosts, the fecundity curve in L. nana was “front-loaded,” whereas in G. agilis it was depressed and extended over much of adult life. In L. nana (but not G. agilis), wasps provided with honey but no hosts lived significantly longer than wasps provided with both honey and hosts. Differences in the fecundity curves of the two hyperparasitoids are probably based on differing costs of reproduction between them, with the wingless G. agilis much more constrained in finding hosts than the winged L. nana. Importantly, L. nana is known to be a specialist hyperparasitoid of gregarious Cotesia species that pupate in exposed locations on the food plant, whereas Gelis sp. attack and develop in divergent hosts such as parasitoid cocoons, moth pupae and spider egg sacs. Consequently, there is a strong match between brood size in C. glomerata and egg production in L. nana, but a mismatch between these parameters in G. agilis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)153-166
    JournalEvolutionary Ecology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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