Ecology and genetic structure of the parasitoid Phobocampe confusa (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in relation to its hosts, Aglais Species (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)

Audusseau, Helene ORCID:; Baudrin, Gaspard; Shaw, Mark R.; Keehnen, Naomi L.P.; Schmucki, Reto ORCID:; Dupont, Lise. 2020 Ecology and genetic structure of the parasitoid Phobocampe confusa (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) in relation to its hosts, Aglais Species (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) [in special issue: Population genetics of insects] Insects, 11 (8), 478. 18, pp.

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The biology of parasitoids in natural ecosystems remains very poorly studied, though they are key species for their functioning. Here we focused on Phobocampe confusa, a Nymphalini specialist, responsible for high mortality rates in charismatic butterfly species in Europe (genus Aglais). We studied its ecology and genetic structure in connection with those of its host butterflies in Sweden. To this aim, we gathered data from 428 P. confusa individuals reared from 6094 butterfly larvae (of A. urticae, A. io, and in two occasions of Araschnia levana) collected over two years (2017 and 2018) and across 19 sites distributed along a 500 km latitudinal gradient. We found that P. confusa is widely distributed along the latitudinal gradient. Its distribution seems constrained over time by the phenology of its hosts. The large variation in climatic conditions between sampling years explains the decrease in phenological overlap between P. confusa and its hosts in 2018 and the 33.5% decrease in the number of butterfly larvae infected. At least in this study, P. confusa seems to favour A. urticae as host. While it parasitized nests of A. urticae and A. io equally, the proportion of larvae parasitized is significantly higher for A. urticae. At the landscape scale, P. confusa is almost exclusively found in vegetated open land and near deciduous forests, whereas artificial habitats are negatively correlated with the likelihood of a nest to be parasitized. The genetic analyses on 89 adult P. confusa and 87 adult A. urticae using CO1 and AFLP markers reveal a low genetic diversity in P. confusa and a lack of genetic structure in both species, at the scale of our sampling. Further genetic studies using high-resolution genomics tools will be required to better understand the population genetic structure of P. confusa, its biotic interactions with its hosts, and ultimately the stability and the functioning of natural ecosystems

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2075-4450
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: A. urticae, A. io, genetic variation, landscape heterogeneity, phenology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 10 Aug 2020 12:46 +0 (UTC)

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