Host phylogeny and specialisation in parasitoids



Ecology Letters (2012) 15: 453–460


The host range of insect parasitoids and herbivores is influenced by both preference-related traits which mediate host choice behaviour, and performance-related traits which mediate the physiological suitability of the consumer-resource interaction. In a previous study, we characterised the influence of preference- and performance-related traits on the host range of the aphid parasitoid Binodoxys communis (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and herein we build upon those data sets by mapping a series of these traits onto the phylogeny of the (aphid) host species. We found a strong effect of host phylogeny on overall parasitoid reproduction on the 20 host species tested, but no effect of the phylogeny of host plants of the aphids. We found an effect of aphid phylogeny on host acceptance and sting rates (related to preference) from behavioural observations and for pupal survivorship (related to performance), showing that both classes of traits show phylogenetic conservatism with respect to host species.