Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Egg laying rather than host quality or host feeding experience drives habitat estimation in the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis

Citation

Koppik, Mareike; Thiel, Andra; Hoffmeister, Thomas S. (2019), Egg laying rather than host quality or host feeding experience drives habitat estimation in the parasitic wasp Nasonia vitripennis, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.qnk98sfbk

Abstract

In variable environments, sampling information on habitat quality is essential for making adaptive foraging decisions. In insect parasitoids, females foraging for hosts have repeatedly been shown to employ behavioral strategies that are in line with predictions from optimal foraging models. Yet, which cues exactly are employed to sample information on habitat quality, has rarely been investigated. Using the gregarious parasitoid Nasonia vitripennis (Walker) (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), we provided females with different cues about hosts to elucidate, which of them would change a wasp’s posterior behavior suggesting a change in information status. We employed posterior clutch size decisions on a host as proxy for a female’s estimation of habitat quality. Taking into account changes in physiological state of the foraging parasitoid, we tested whether different host qualities encountered previously change the subsequent clutch size decision in females. Additionally, we investigated whether other kinds of positive experiences - such as ample time to investigate hosts, host feeding, or egg laying  - would increase a wasp’s estimated value of habitat quality. Contrary to our expectations, quality differences in previously encountered hosts did not affect clutch size decisions. However, we found that prior egg laying experience changes posterior egg allocation to a host, indicating a change in female information status. Host feeding and the time available for host inspection, though correlated with egg laying experience, did not seem to contribute to this change in information status.

Funding

Central Research Development Fund, University of Bremen, Award: 02/125/10