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Data from: Parasitoid wasps indirectly suppress seed production by stimulating consumption rates of their seed-feeding hosts

Cite this dataset

Xi, Xinqiang; Eisenhauer, Nico; Shucun, Sun (2015). Data from: Parasitoid wasps indirectly suppress seed production by stimulating consumption rates of their seed-feeding hosts [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. In parasitoid–herbivore–plant food chains, parasitoids may be simultaneously linked with both herbivore hosts and plants, as occurs when herbivores attacked by parasitoids continue to consume plants although they are destined to die. This peculiar property may cause parasitoids to confer a differential trophic cascading effect on plants than that known for typical predators. 2. We hypothesized that larval koinobiont parasitoids would confer an immediate negative effect on plant seed production by stimulating consumption of their seed-predator hosts. We tested this hypothesis in an alpine parasitic food chain of plant seeds, pre-dispersal seed predators (tephritid fly larvae) and koinobiont parasitoids using field observations, a field experiment and a microcosm study. 3. We first compared observed seed production in (i) non-infected capitula, (ii) capitula infected only by seed predators (tephritid flies) and (iii) capitula infected by both seed predators and their parasitoids in five Asteraceae species. Consistent with our hypothesis, seed loss in the capitula with both seed predators and parasitoids was significantly greater than in the capitula infested only by seed predators. 4. This effect was replicated in a controlled field experiment focusing on the most common parasitoid–seed predator–plant interaction chain in our system, in which confounding factors (e.g. density and phenology) were excluded. Here, we show that parasitoids indirectly decreased plant seed production by changing the behaviour of seed predators. 5. In a microcosm study, we show that larval parasitoids significantly extended the growth period and increased the terminal size of their host tephritid maggots. Thus, parasitoids suppressed plant seed production by stimulating the growth and consumption of the fly maggots. 6. In contrast to the typical predator-induced trophic cascade, we highlight the significance of parasitoids indirectly decreasing plant fitness by stimulating consumption by seed predators. Future studies on trophic interactions should consider the net effect of both increased consumption by seed predators and their death after development of parasitoids.

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Eastern Tibetan Plateatu