Alien herbivores and native parasitoids: rapid developments and structure of the parasitoid and inquiline complex in an invading gall wasp Andricus quercuscalicis (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae)


Dr Karsten Schönrogge, Imperial College at silwood Park, Ascot, Berks. SLS 7PY.



  • 1Rapid and substantial changes have occurred in the parasitoid and inquiline community associated with the agamic galls of Andricus quercuscalicis since it invaded Britain in the late 1950s. The number of parasitoid and inquiline species has risen from one to thirteen over a 15-year period. Although the number of species has been relatively consistent over the last 8 years, the species composition has changed considerably and in a highly characteristic way during this period.
  • 2The parasitoid complex can be divided into two broadly distinct sets of parasitoid species; one set attacks only the gall former whereas the other set concentrates on the inquilines living in the wall of the gall.
  • 3The most dramatic change, however, is in the abundance of inquilines which were reported to be virtually absent in earlier studies on this community in Britain. Over a period of only 5 years, between 1988 and 1993, inquiline attack rose from less than 0.01 to an average of 0.26 inquilines per gall. The intensity of inquiline attack is geographically heterogenous, with high inquiline numbers restricted to south-east England. Because of the relatively high specificity of the parasitoids, high inquiline abundance is positively correlated with parasitoid species richness in knopper galls.
  • 4Parasitism rates, particularly on the gall former, were generally low (<10%). Over the last 5 years, however, seven parasitoid species have been consistently recorded and the mortality caused by these species has increased continuously. The species composition of the community associated with this alien gall wasp in Britain has quickly converged to the community known from its native range in continental Europe. Parasitoid species known to attack the galls of A.quercuscalisis on the continent have been recorded from it in Britain for the first time mainly in areas where inquilines have recently become abundant.
  • 5Since rates of parasitism of the gall former are still low, parasitoids are unlikely to play a major role in the population dynamics of this invading gall wasp at present, but the rapidly increasing inquiline and parasitoid attack could be a source of increased mortality for native cynipid species which are the alternative hosts of those parasitoid species.