Small-scale spatial resource partitioning in a hyperparasitoid community

J.A. Harvey, H. Snaas, M. Malcicka, B. Visser, T.M. Bezemer

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Plant-herbivore-natural enemy associations underpin ecological communities, and such interactions may go up to four (or even more) trophic levels. Here, over the course of a growing season, we compared the diversity of secondary hyperparasitoids associated with a common host, Cotesia glomerata, a specialized larval endoparasitoid of cabbage butterfly caterpillars that in turn feed on brassicaceous plants. Cocoon clusters of C. glomerata were pinned to ~30 Brassica nigra plants by pinning them either to branches in the canopy (~1.5 m high) or to the base of the stem near the ground. The cocoons were collected a week later and reared to determine which hyperparasitoid species emerged from them. This was done in four consecutive months (June–September). Cocoons placed in the canopy were primarily attacked by specialized winged hyperparasitoids (Lysibia nana, Acrolyta nens), whereas cocoons on the ground were attacked by both winged and generalist wingless hyperparasitoids (Gelis acarorum, G. agilis), although this changed with season. There was much more temporal variation in the diversity and number of species attacking cocoons in the canopy than on the ground; the abundance of L. nana and A. nens varied from month to month, whereas P. semotus was only prevalent in August. By contrast, G. acarorum was abundant in all of the samples placed near the ground. Our results show that hyperparasitoids partition host resources at remarkably small vertical spatial scales. We argue that spatial differences in the distribution of natural enemies can contribute to the diversity patterns observed in the field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)393-401
    JournalArthopod-plant interactions
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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