Variation in parasitoidism of Protocalliphora azurea (Diptera: Calliphoridae) by Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) in Spain

Abstract

Parasitoid wasps may act as hyperparasites and sometimes regulate the populations of their hosts by a top-down dynamic. Nasonia vitripennis (Walker, 1836) is a generalist gregarious parasitoid that parasitizes several host flies, including the blowfly Protocalliphora Hough, 1899 (Diptera, Calliphoridae), which in turn parasitizes bird nestlings. Nonetheless, the ecological factors underlying N. vitripennis prevalence and parasitoidism intensity on its hosts in natural populations are poorly understood. We have studied the prevalence of N. vitripennis in Protocalliphora azurea (Fallén, 1817) puparia parasitizing wild populations of pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) and blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) birds in two Mediterranean areas in central and southern Spain. We found some evidence that the prevalence of N. vitripennis was higher in moist habitats in southern Spain. A host-dependent effect was found, since the greater the number of P. azurea puparia, the greater the probability and rate of parasitoidism by the wasp. Our results also suggest that N. vitripennis parasitizes more P. azurea puparia in blue tit nests than in pied flycatcher nests as a consequence of a higher load of these flies in the former. Based on the high prevalence of N. vitripennis in P. azurea puparia in nature, we propose that this wasp may regulate blowfly populations, with possible positive effects on the reproduction of both bird species.

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Acknowledgements

The study was supported by projects of Plan Nacional of the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (CGL2014-55969-P and CGL2017-84938-P), both financed with FEDER (E.U.) funds. We are grateful to Abelardo Requena Blanco, Nicola Bernardo, Mar Comas, Maribel P. Moreno, José Luis Ros Santaella, and Eliana Pintus for their collaboration in various aspects of fieldwork and also to David Nesbitt for his help improving the English. Comments by two anonymous referees improved the typescript.

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Garrido-Bautista, J., Moreno-Rueda, G., Baz, A. et al. Variation in parasitoidism of Protocalliphora azurea (Diptera: Calliphoridae) by Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) in Spain. Parasitol Res 119, 559–566 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-019-06553-x

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Keywords

  • Blowfly
  • Parasitoid
  • Nasonia vitripennis
  • Protocalliphora azurea
  • Ficedula hypoleuca
  • Cyanistes caeruleus