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Indirect plant-mediated interactions among parasitoid larvae



Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 670–676


Communities are riddled with indirect species interactions and these interactions can be modified by organisms that are parasitic or symbiotic with one of the indirectly interacting species. By inducing plant responses, herbivores are well known to alter the plant quality for subsequent feeders. The reduced performance of herbivores on induced plants cascades into effects on the performance of higher trophic level organisms such as parasitoids that develop inside herbivores. Parasitoids themselves may also, indirectly, interact with the host plant by affecting the behaviour and physiology of their herbivorous host. Here, we show that, through their herbivorous host, larvae of two parasitoid species differentially affect plant phenotypes leading to asymmetric interactions among parasitoid larvae developing in different hosts that feed on the same plant. Our results show that temporally separated parasitoid larvae are involved in indirect plant-mediated interactions by a network of trophic and non-trophic relationships.