- Specificity of odour-mediated avoidance of competition in Drosophila parasitoids
- Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
- Volume | Issue number
- 36 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Although there are many examples of the role of volatile infochemicals in interactions between trophic levels of insect communities, surprisingly little is known of volatile interactions between species within the third trophic level. Recently it was found that Leptopilina heterotoma, an endoparasitoid that attacks Drosophila larvae, avoids one type of patches (decaying stinkhorn mushrooms) when parasitoids of another species (L. clavipes) are present on these patches. L. heterotoma is able to smell the presence of L. clavipes from a distance (Fig. 1). In this paper we investigate the source of the odour that induces avoidance behaviour, by varying the host species and parasitoid species present on stinkhorn mushrooms, and by using another type of patch (sap-fluxes of wounded trees). L. heterotoma was found to avoid stinkhorn patches with conspecific as well as heterospecific parasitoids (Fig. 2). Hosts had to be present in the patch to elicit avoidance, but avoidance behaviour was also found with another host species present in the patch (Fig. 3). No avoidance behaviour was found with sap-flux patches with hosts and parasitoids on them (Fig. 4). Avoidance of stinkhorn patches only occurred when the parasitoids present on the patch were able to contact hosts (Figs. 5 and 6). The exact source of the odour that elicits avoidance is still unclear, so that one can only speculate on the function of the signal. However, there is a clear benefit to the receiver, because it is able to avoid superior competitors. Avoidance can lead to non-aggregated parasitoid distributions. The importance of avoidance behaviour for population dynamics and stability of parasitoid-host systems is discussed.
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