1. Habitat complexity may stabilize interactions among species of different trophic levels by providing refuges to organisms of lower trophic levels. 2. Searching behaviour of the parasitoid, Diadegma semiclausum, was followed in different semifield set-ups, a low and high-density monoculture of Brassica oleracea and two intercrops, B. oleracea with Sinapis alba (also a member of the Brassicaceae) and B. oleracea with Hordeum vulgare (Poaceae). 3. When a low-density monocrop of B. oleracea was compared with a high-density monocrop, no differences were found in the ability of the female wasps to locate a host-infested plant, B. oleracea, infested with Plutella xylostella that was placed in the centre of the set-up. 4. The efficiency of the parasitoid to locate the host-infested plant was differentially affected by the species composition of the vegetation. Wasps entered the Sinapis-Brassica set-up faster, but took more time to find the host-infested plant than in the Hordeum-Brassica set-up. 5. The horizontal arrangement, i.e. by mixing S. alba or H. vulgare with, or placing them as rows between B. oleracea, did not affect host-finding efficiency. 6. Plant height did influence host finding. Wasps found the host-infested plants earlier in the set-up with short Sinapis plants compared with tall Sinapis plants. 7. Once the wasps had landed on the host-infested plant, the surrounding vegetation did not affect time needed to parasitize five consecutive hosts on the same infested plant, regardless of the composition or horizontal/vertical arrangement of the set-up. 8. Chemical and structural refuges in complex landscapes may play an important role in the persistence of this system through dampening oscillations of parasitoid and host populations. [KEYWORDS: crucifers ; Diadegma semiclausum ; Plutella xylostella ; proportional hazards model ; refuges]
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Journal publication date2005

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