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Keywords:

  • Vespidae;
  • Vespula vulgaris;
  • Vespula germanica;
  • competition;
  • habitat use

Abstract.

  • 1
    New Zealand was colonized by the German wasp, Vespula germanica (F.), in the 1940s and it subsequently became established throughout the country. The common wasp, V.vulgaris (L), colonized in the late 1970s and is still spreading.
  • 2
    The common wasp has replaced the German wasp in some habitats in New Zealand. Samples from a nationwide postal survey indicate that the common wasp is now the more abundant species in honeydew beech forests (Nothofagus spp.), and to a lesser extent in other native forests. The German wasp is still the more abundant wasp in rural areas (excluding forest). The two species are at present co-dominant in urban areas, although this may be a transient phase.
  • 3
    In honeydew beech forest the two species show different foraging patterns that provide the potential for local coexistence. Although both species are generalist feeders, the German wasp is more commonly found foraging for protein amongst the forest litter, whereas the common wasp forages more on shrubs and tree saplings. Despite this difference, the common wasp can still replace the German wasp in honeydew beech forest within a few years of invasion.
  • 4
    In honeydew beech forests in which the German wasp is the more abundant species it dominates honeydew trunks (sugar resource), whereas the common wasp dominates honeydew trunks in areas where it is the more abundant species. The change from German to common wasp domination of honeydew trunks is more rapid than the change in dominance in other microhabitats. Aggressive interactions may be taking place on this high quality, potentially defensible sugar resource.