- Second and third tropic level effects of differences in plant species reflect dietary specialisation of herbivores and their endoparasitoids
- Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
- Volume | Issue number
- 109 | 1
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
In natural populations, plants demonstrate an array of indirect and direct defence strategies that help to protect them from their herbivores and pathogens. Indirect defences include the release of odours that attract the natural enemies of herbivores, whereas direct defences may include the production of secondary compounds, allelochemicals that impair herbivore development or repel herbivore attack. Although both strategies have been well studied independently, comparatively little attention has been paid to examining the conflict that may arise between indirect and direct defences, such as when the performance of 'recruited' parasitoids or predators is negatively affected by plant allelochemicals. Here, we examine the growth and development of polyphagous and oligophagous folivores and their respective endoparasitoids on three crucifer species. One of the species, Brassica oleracea, was recently cultivated, whereas populations of B. nigra and Barbarea vulgaris occur naturally. Additionally, these species possess contrasting life-history patterns and are also known to exhibit differences in secondary chemistry. The development of the generalist herbivore - parasitoid system was much more variable over the three crucifers than that exhibited by the specialists. Moreover, generalist herbivore and/ or parasitoid fitness-related traits ( survival, development time, pupal, or adult size) were much more negatively affected on the wild crucifers than in the specialist association. Our results suggest that the relative importance of direct and indirect defences in plants may rest on the degree of dietary specialisation exhibited by herbivores and their natural enemies, and on the level of toxicity in the plant species under investigation.
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