Foraging behaviour at the fourth trophic level: a comparative study of host location in aphid hyperparasitoids

R. Buitenhuis, L.E.M. Vet, G. Boivin, J. Brodeur

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    In studies of foraging behaviour in a multitrophic context, the fourth trophic level has generally been ignored. We used four aphid hyperparasitoid species: Dendrocerus carpenteri (Curtis) (Hymenoptera: Megaspilidae), Asaphes suspensus Walker (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), Alloxysta victrix (Westwood) (Hymenoptera: Alloxystidae) and Syrphophagus aphidivorus (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae), to correlate their response to different cues with their ecological attributes such as host range and host stage. In addition, we compared our results with studies of primary parasitoids on the same plantherbivore system. First, the olfactory response of females was tested in a Y-tube olfactometer (single choice: plant, aphid, honeydew, parasitised aphid, aphid mummy, or virgin female parasitoid; dual choice: clean plant, plant with aphids, or planthost complex). Second, their foraging behaviour was described on plants with different stimuli (honeydew, aphids, parasitised aphids, and aphid mummies). The results indicated that olfactory cues are probably not essential cues for hyperparasitoid females. In foraging behaviour on the plant, all species prolonged their total visit time and search time as compared to the control treatment (clean plant). Only A. victrix did not react to the honeydew. Oviposition in mummies prolonged the total visit time because of the long handling time, but the effect of this behaviour on search time could not be determined. No clear correlation between foraging behaviour and host stage or host range was found. In contrast to specialised primary aphid parasitoids that have strong fixed responses to specific kairomones and herbivore-induced synomones, more generalist aphid hyperparasitoids seem to depend less on volatile olfactory stimuli, but show similarities with primary parasitoids in their use of contact cues while searching on a plant. [KEYWORDS: aphid parasitoid ; host search behaviour ; infochemical ; olfaction ; multitrophic interactions ; Hymenoptera ; Megaspilidae ; Pteromalidae ; Alloxystidae ; Encyrtidae ; Dendrocerus carpenteri ; Asaphes suspensus ; Alloxysta victrix ; Syrphophagus ; aphidivorus]
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)107-117
    JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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