Niche separation of pollen beetle parasitoids

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Species with similar resource requirements are commonly assumed to competitively exclude each other, unless they differentiate their ecological niches. Hence, parasitoid wasps that use the same host species need to find some way to avoid competition. The aim of this study was to identify the role of volatile cues from oilseed rape plants and the larval host in niche separation between three coexisting parasitoid species. We examined how Phradis interstitialis, Phradis morionellus and Tersilochus heterocerus, sympatric parasitoids of Brassicogethes aeneus, differ in their abundances, distribution on buds and flowers, and oviposition behavior in the field. Furthermore, we tested their preferences for odors from uninfested and infested oilseed rape plants in the bud and flowering stage, and their preferences for odors from three developmental stages of pollen beetle larvae in a two-choice olfactometer bioassay. P. interstitialis was active in the field early in the season, preferred odors of infested buds vs. uninfested, and oviposited into buds which contained only pollen beetle eggs, while P. morionellus was active late in the season, preferred odors of infested buds as well as odors of infested flowers over uninfested, and oviposited into buds which contained only larvae. T. heterocerus was active throughout the season, and preferred odors of infested flowers over uninfested. Neither Phradis species were attracted to larval odors, whereas T. heterocerus was attracted to odors from first-instar pollen beetle larvae both in the absence of plant odors, and when presented simultaneously with uninfested plant odor. This suggests that the two Phradis species are separated on a temporal scale and that they parasitize different host stages, while the larval parasitoids P. morionellus and T. heterocerus are separated by choice of microhabitat. The former oviposits into larvae in buds, and the latter in flowers.


External organisations
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Zoology
  • Ecology


  • Tersilochus heterocerus, Phradis interstitialis, Phradis morionellus
Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Related research output

Josef Berger, 2019, Lund: Media-Tryck, Lund University, Sweden. 168 p.

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