Precise sex allocation, local mate competition, and sex ratio shifts in the parasitoid wasp Trichogramma pretiosum

R.F. Luck, J.A.M. Janssen, J.D. Pinto, E.R. Oatman

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We determined the sex, order, and clutch size of eggs laid by the parasitoid wasp, Trichogramma pretiosum Riley, in the eggs of one of its natural hosts, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner). The parasitoid allocated sex non-randomly to hosts in the laboratory with a variance significantly less than that of a binomial (random) distribution, our null model. More clutches of two or more eggs contained a single male egg as the second or third egg laid than would be expected by chance and none contained two or more male eggs. T. pretiosum also increased the sex ratio ( ale) of its offspring with increasing foundress numbers by increasing the frequency of male offspring as the second egg in a two-egg clutch allocated to unparasitized hosts and as the single egg allocated to previously parasitized hosts. These results indicate that T. pretiosum allocates the sex of its offspring precisely. Precise sex allocation is favored under local mate competition because it reduces variation in the number of sons per patch thus maximizing the number of inseminated daughters emigrating from the patch. Similar combinations of female and male offspring emerged from T. ni eggs parasitized by T. pretiosum in the field, again with a sex ratio variance less than that expected for a binomial distribution. These results strongly suggest that this parasitoid species manifests local mate competition
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-321
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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