Subfamily composition of Ichneumonidae (Hymenoptera) from western Amazonia: Insights into diversity of tropical parasitoid wasps


Anu Veijalainen, Zoological Museum, FI-20014 University of Turku, Turku, Finland. E-mail


Abstract.  1. Previous studies have found the parasitoid wasp family Ichneumonidae (Hymenoptera) to have an exceptional latitudinal species richness gradient that peaks at mid-latitudes instead of the tropics; however, insufficient tropical sampling and species description may have biased the conclusions. It has been unclear which subfamilies might be species rich in tropical lowland rain forests.

2. This study reports the subfamily abundance composition of a large ichneumonid data set (>30 000 individuals in 20 subfamilies) collected by Malaise traps and insecticidal canopy fogging in Amazonian Ecuador and Peru and suggests which subfamilies would be important for future study.

3. Relative abundance data from one Peruvian site are compared to similar lowland samples from Costa Rica and Georgia (USA).

4. Contrary to a common assumption, a number of ichneumonid subfamilies are very abundant and presumably species rich in western Amazonia. Cryptinae and Orthocentrinae are noticeably the two most abundant subfamilies, and a number of koinobiont lepidopteran parasitoids, which are generally thought to be scarce in the tropics, are also surprisingly abundant (e.g. Anomaloninae, Banchinae and Cremastinae). However, the subfamilies whose primary hosts are rare in the tropics (e.g. Ctenopelmatinae, Tryphoninae) can still be expected to be more diverse in the temperate than in tropical zone.

5. Further research on the latitudinal species richness gradient within different ichneumonid subfamilies is encouraged to help understand what factors determine macroecological species richness patterns and what is the total number of ichneumonid species on earth.