Ambient temperature affects mechanosensory host location in a parasitic wasp
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- Samietz, J., Kroder, S., Schneider, D. et al. J Comp Physiol A (2006) 192: 151. doi:10.1007/s00359-005-0057-6
Certain parasitic wasps (Ichneumonidae, Pimplinae) use self-produced vibrations transmitted on plant substrate to locate their immobile concealed hosts (i.e. lepidopteran pupae). This mechanosensory mechanism, called the vibrational sounding, depends both on physical cues of the environment and physical activity of the parasitoid and is postulated to depend on ambient temperature. We analysed the influences of temperature on vibrational sounding by choice experiments using plant-stem models with hidden host mimics in the temperate species Pimpla turionellae. The results show a significant effect of temperature on host-location activity and on the success of this process. Outside an optimum range, the performance of the wasps decreased both at low and high temperatures. Below 10°C and beyond 24°C, the wasps displayed (1) substantial reduction in responsiveness, i.e. proportion of females showing ovipositor insertions, (2) reduction of quantitative activity with ovipositor insertions in the individuals, and (3) reduced precision of mechanosensory host location. Nevertheless, female wasps were able to locate their host over a surprisingly broad range of ambient temperatures which indicates that the wasps are able to compensate for temperature effects on vibrational sounding.