Project properties

Title Do plants affect the outcome of parasitoid competition?
Group Entomology, Laboratory of
Project type thesis
Credits 12, 18, 24-30
Supervisor(s) Erik Poelman, Marcel Dicke
Examiner(s) Marcel Dicke
Contact info Erik Poelman ( / 0317-485433)
Begin date 2009/04/02
End date 2020/12/31
Description Parasitoids often compete over herbivore hosts that are used to rear offspring. Generally, a single host species is exploited by more than one parasitoid species and hence competition between parasitoids over host and larval competition within host are common features in nature. Co-existence of parasitoid species has resulted in species radiation of reproductive strategies of parasitoids that include variation in clutch size, larval traits, patch exploitation, learning capability and in-flight discrimination of odours derived from plant-herbivore complexes. These differences in host exploitation strategies of parasitoid species are fundamental to species co-existence. Typically, outcomes of competition are affected by the set of biotic and abiotic conditions of the arena where competition takes place. Herbivore host and parasitoid interactions predominantly take place in a background of an insect community with non-host herbivores that simultaneously feed on the same plant or neighbouring plants. Those host and non-host herbivores alter plant quality when feeding on a plant and may thereby affect the outcome of parasitoid competition.

We study whether plant quality affects competition among parasitoids and focus on 1) in-flight avoidance of competition, 2) host patch exploitation strategies under competition, 3) indirect competition of parasitoid larvae on the host plant, 4) direct competition of parasitoid larvae inside the herbivore host.
Used skills The experimental work in this project can include both field and laboratory experiments. The basis of most of the experiments that can be designed in this topic are measurements of insect behaviour and their performance. Behavioural measurements include, choice tests, patch exploitation behaviour and adult as well as larval interactions among parasitoid species. The performance tests include measurements on adult body mass as well as reproductive success in number of eggs and their distribution over hosts.
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.