Comparing resource allocation and life history in closely related aphid parasitoid species sharing the same host.

C. Le Lann, B. Visser, J. van Baaren, J.J.M. van Alphen, J. Ellers

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Species belonging to the same guild (i. e. sharing the same resources) can reduce the negative effects of resource competition through niche partitioning. Coexisting species may differ in their resource exploitation and in the associated allocation of nutrients, depending on their resource niche. Trade-offs in nutrient allocation, such as between reproduction and survival, or between early and late reproduction, are moderated by the abundance and distribution of resources. In this study we investigate differences in larval resource exploitation and adult reproductive strategy of two sympatric aphid parasitoids sharing a common host. The habitat specialist Aphidius rhopalosiphi and the generalist Aphidius avenae occur in cereal crops of Western Europe, where both species attack the major host resource: the grain aphid Sitobion avenae. For this purpose, we measured their acquisition of capital lipid resources, their age-specific fecundity and reproductive effort, their life span and their metabolic rate. We found that these species do not differ neither in larval lipid accumulation nor in the number of eggs at emergence and the timing of egg production, but diverge in other adult reproductive strategies. The rate of adult egg production was higher in A. rhopalosiphi than A. avenae, but at the expense of producing smaller eggs. Throughout adult life, reproductive effort was higher in A. avenae, perhaps facilitated by its higher metabolic rate than A. rhopalosiphi. The divergence between species in life history syndromes likely reflects their adaptations to their resource niche. A high egg production probably allows the specialist A. rhopalosiphi to exploit more S. avenae individuals in cereal crops, while the generalist A. avenae because of its variety of hosts, maximizes the investment per egg but at the expense of a lower lifespan. Our results suggest that differential resource allocation may be a more common pattern that promotes coexistence of species within a guild. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)79-94
    JournalEvolutionary Ecology
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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