Project properties

Title Foraging success of parasitoids in diverse agro-ecosystems: How to be efficient under diverse conditions?
Group Entomology, Laboratory of
Project type thesis
Credits 12, 18, 24 - 39
Supervisor(s) Erik Poelman, Marcel Dicke
Examiner(s) Marcel Dicke
Contact info
Begin date 2009/03/02
End date 2020/12/31
Description Parasitoids are evolved to find their host in a diverse system. It is hypothesized that increased vegetation diversity will enhance their performance in the field. However, responses of parasitic wasps to habitat diversification are highly variable. Very little experimental evidence exists on how different degrees of vegetation diversity influence their foraging success. Quality of the habitat (alternative host, suitable pollen/nectar) may be one factor determining parasitoid performance. On the other hand not all parasitoid species respond the same way to a given habitat and the answer to this phenomenon can be found in their foraging behaviour and their ability to learn how to sort out complex cues in a diverse environment. In the laboratory we are focussing on to characterise foraging behaviour of parasitoids in monocultures and diverse vegetations. The ability of parasitoids to learn how to deal with host searching in simple/complex vegetation is also evaluated.
In the field a comprehensive evaluation of parasitism in an intercrop and a spatial monoculture is attempted. The aim is to investigate the direct contribution of intercropping to biological control through a parasitoid species, compared to a monocropped system. Methods involve the use of mark-release/recapture techniques combined with direct observations.

Used skills Students should be able to work within a “diverse” team. Literature review, behavioural experiments (e.g. wind tunnel), laboratory work (processing data collected from the field), data analysis, report writing.

Requirements For doing a BSc-thesis at Entomology, there are no requirements for specific courses.
For doing a MSc-thesis or internship at Entomology, the following requirements apply: ENT-30806 + a second ENT-course (preferably ENT-30306 or ENT-50806 or ENT-53806). As an alternative for the second ENT-course, PHP-30806 or BHE-30306 can be selected.
Note: these requirements do not apply for MBI students; MBI students should check the requirements for doing an ENT MSc-thesis or internship in the study programme of their specialisation.