Project properties

Title Influence of weather conditions on parasitoid foraging behavior
Group Entomology, Laboratory of
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) Ilka Vosteen
Erik Poelman
Examiner(s) Marcel Dicke
Contact info
Begin date 2017/01/05
End date 2020/06/30
Description Parasitoid foraging in a controlled laboratory environment is well understood, but less is known about factors that influence host location behaviour under more natural conditions. Herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) which are emitted after an herbivore attack are important foraging cues for parasitoids, but the ability of parasitoids to follow an odour plume upwind towards its source may for instance depend on wind speed. To study the influence of weather conditions on parasitoid foraging, we use the parasitoid Cotesia glomerata, which attacks caterpillars of the Cabbage white (Pieris rapae and P. brassicae). Preliminary experiments, in which we released parasitoids in a circle of caterpillar infested plants in the field, suggest that the number of parasitoids that successfully located a caterpillar infested plant strongly depends on humidity, with more parasitoids reaching caterpillar infested plants at higher humidity. This indicates that parasitoid foraging activity or their ability to locate an odour source might be reduced at low humidity. Preliminary data further hints that upwind dispersal might only be possible at low wind speed. To further study the influence of weather conditions on the foraging behaviour of C. glomerata, different experiments will be done in the laboratory and field.
Used skills Behavioural ecology, field work, statistical analysis
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.