The theoretical value of encounters with parasitized hosts for parasitoids

M. Kolss, T.S. Hoffmeister, L. Hemerik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


A female parasitoid searching for hosts in a patch experiences a diminishing encounter rate with unparasitized and thus suitable hosts. To use the available time most efficiently, it constantly has to decide whether to stay in the patch and continue to search for hosts or to search for and travel to another patch in the habitat. Several informational cues can be used to optimize the searching success. Theoretically, encounters with unparasitized hosts should lead to a prolonged search in a given patch if hosts are distributed contagiously. The results of empirical studies strongly support this hypothesis. However, it has, to date, not been investigated theoretically whether encounters with already parasitized hosts (which usually entail time costs) provide a parasitoid with valuable information for the optimization of its search in depletable patches, although the empirical studies concerning this question so far have produced ambiguous results. Building on recent advances in Bayesian foraging strategies, we approached this problem by modeling a priori searching strategies (which differ in the amount of information considered) and then testing them in computer simulations. By comparing the strategies, we were able to determine whether and how encounters with already parasitized hosts can yield information that can be used to enhance a parasitoid's searching success
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-304
Number of pages14
JournalBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • patch time allocation
  • leaving decision rules
  • aphis-gossypii homoptera
  • marginal value theorem
  • asobara-tabida
  • adaptive superparasitism
  • exploitation strategy
  • solitary parasitoids
  • nemeritis-canescens
  • insect parasitoids

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