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Interspecific competition among aphid parasitoids molecular approaches reveal preferential exploitation of parasitized hosts

Abstract : When a guild of species exploit the same limited resources, interspecific competition induces the exclusion of inferior competitors, in which case, interspecific recognition mechanisms are needed. Here, we address resource partitioning and interspecific competition among three main solitary parasitoid species attacking the same host resource, the aphid Sitobion avenae in wheat fields. Optimal host acceptance models predict that parasitoid species should prefer attacking unparasitized hosts when they are available in order to maximize their fitness, as already parasitized hosts are less valuable for laying eggs, especially for inferior competitors. Therefore, we expected the level of competition (multiparasitism) in the field to increase at low host density. By using a combination of taxonomical (determination) and molecular (PCR-based) approaches, we assessed the species of all parasitoid adults and immature stages within aphid hosts. Our results demonstrate that, early in the season, the multiparasitism rates were low, whereas they were high in the mid-late season, corresponding to an aphid density decrease over time. Moreover, parasitoid species could not have been exploiting host resources randomly and the better competitor, Aphidius ervi, seemed to be foraging preferentially on hosts already parasitized by the inferior competitor A. rhopalosiphi, even when unparasitized hosts were still available. This could be due to differences in their host detection capability, as species with a narrow host range may be better at detecting their hosts in comparison with species with a greater host range, such as A. ervi, with a greater host range within the guild. Our study suggests differences in the host exploitation of two prevalent parasitoid species through the main period of aphid colonization, which still allowed the coexistence of a third inferior competitor (A. rhopalosiphi) within the assemblage, in spite of some negative interactions (multiparasitism) and redundancies.
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Sebastián Ortiz-Martínez, Jean-Sébastien Pierre, Joan van Baaren, Cécile Le Lann, Francisca Zepeda-Paulo, et al.. Interspecific competition among aphid parasitoids molecular approaches reveal preferential exploitation of parasitized hosts. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), pp.19641. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-56187-3⟩. ⟨hal-02440756⟩

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