Life-history traits are increasingly used to understand how arthropod communities assemble and function under diverse conditions, for example why some species are better adapted to agricultural intensification than others. We aimed to understand which traits characterise parasitoid wasps under agricultural disturbances. To this end, we studied parasitoid communities from pomegranate orchards and nearby natural habitats in Israel. Ten sites along a climate gradient were sampled thrice along one fruit-growing season. We compiled information on life-history traits associated with development, adult diet and host taxa, for 27 well-represented parasitoid species. We tested for relationships between the parasitoids' abundances, functional traits and environmental conditions, using RLQ and fourth-corner analyses. Life-history traits were highly related to environmental variables. Koinobionts (wasps whose parasitized hosts feed and grow), and parasitoids of aphids and whiteflies, were more common, and sugar-feeding was less common, in orchards than in natural habitats. Parasitism of larval hosts correlated with aridity, while egg parasitism increased with herbaceous vegetation cover. Host composition and koinobiosis shape parasitoid communities in the orchards. Koinobiosis is often associated with life-history traits such as small eggs, short life-span, early egg maturation and high fecundity, which may be adaptive in the frequently disturbed orchard habitats. Further, dense vegetation conditions seem to favour egg parasitism (perhaps because of reduced risks of egg desication), while larval parasitism is more common in arid seasons and sites. These findings provide initial insights regarding the effects of land use and climate on the functional characteristics of parasitoid communities.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
information Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Grant/Award Number: 131-1793-14We thank Dr. Serguei V. Triapitsyn from the Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, CA, USA and Dr. Gregory A. Evans from the United States Department of Agriculture, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Beltsville, MD, USA for their assistance with parasitoid classification. We also thank (alphabetically) Ayelet Allon, Shlomo Cain, Ben Dvir, Alon Ornai, Lea Sella, Achiad Sadeh and Idan Shapira who participated in the field and lab work. Dr. Edwin Lebrija-Trechos commented on the manuscript. The study was supported by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (grant number 131-1793-14) and by the Israeli Institute of Advanced Studies. The parasitoids collected in this study are housed at the Margolin Biological Collections, Oranim College, Tivon, Israel.
© 2022 The Authors. Ecological Entomology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Entomological Society.
- functional traits
- parasitoid community composition
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science