The effect of context and trait-dependent factors on development and reproduction of the secondary parasitoid, Gelis agilis

Project: PhD

Project Details


Hyperparasitoids are insects that lay eggs in or on the larvae or pupae of primary parasitoids and their progeny develop at the expense of the host 1. The aim of my research is to investigate context- and trait-dependent factors on development and reproduction of the asexual hyperparasitoid, Gelis agilis in cocoons of its primary parasitoid host, Cotesia glomerata. Body size is a vital life-history based trait in animals 2,3. Mothers have influence on their offspring’s traits above and beyond the direct gene transfer 4. I will evaluate whether maternal body mass affects progeny development in hosts of different size. Cannibalism is ubiquitous in many arthropods which can be affected by density-dependent factors 5. However, aside from autoparasitoids, it has never been observed among larvae in other primary or secondary parasitoids. I will determine if sibling cannibalism occurs by stinging cocoons of C. glomerata by G. agilis at different time intervals, and if there are costs on the size and development time of the cannibalizing winner. Foraging and reproduction are directly linked in parasitoids6. Parasitoids are models organisms for studying how limited resources (from a single host) affect development 7. Habitat complexity can affect the exploitation of resources by specialist consumers and can affect their population dynamics and persistence. I will test host finding and reproductive behavior of G. agilis in microcosms (Petri dishes) with mazes that vary from simple (a single chamber) to complex (16 chambers). I will lastly compare Gelis communities in field plots with differing management strategies and local habitat complexity.
Effective start/end date1/10/20 → …


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