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A well-studied parasitoid fly of field crickets uses multiple alternative hosts in its introduced range

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A Correction to this article was published on 21 January 2023

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Organisms and their natural enemies can have dynamic coevolutionary trajectories, but anthropogenic effects like species introductions interrupt existing coevolutionary relationships. For parasites in particular, if they are introduced to a location without their hosts, they can only persist in the new environment if alternative hosts are (1) present, (2) detectable to parasites, and (3) capable of sustaining parasites. The circumstances surrounding the addition of alternative hosts to a parasite’s repertoire are rarely observed. The parasitoid fly Ormia ochracea locates its field cricket hosts by orienting acoustically to their conspicuous mating songs. In Hawaii, O. ochracea is only known to parasitize one species, Teleogryllus oceanicus, but rapid evolution of T. oceanicus mating song over the past 20 years has led to several prevalent morphs of the cricket that produce no song or novel songs that the flies cannot detect. Yet flies persist in populations that lack ancestral singing T. oceanicus, prompting us to investigate the possibility of alternative hosts in Hawaii. We demonstrate first that three potential alternative hosts (Gryllodes sigillatus, Gryllus bimaculatus, and Modicogryllus pacificus) are present. Second, O. ochracea exhibits a positive phonotactic response to all three species’ songs in the field and in the lab. And third, O. ochracea can successfully develop to pupae and emerge as adults in all three species. Our discovery of alternative hosts for O. ochracea in Hawaii infuses the system with intriguing complexity and offers extensive opportunities for future work.

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Data can be found in Dryad: All sequences were deposited in NCBI GenBank (OP942437-OP942441).

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We would like to thank the group of people who helped us identify Modicogryllus pacificus. Specifically, Daniel Otte advised on dissection methods and visually confirmed the identification of the species. Our research in Kalaupapa National Park would not have been possible without support from Pastor Richard, Sister Barbara Jean, Sister Damien Alisha, Nancy Holman, Kelly Moore, and Rosa Key, as well as support from community members including Glauco, Tim, Kristen, and picturesque Mackenzie. We acknowledge that the land on which these data were collected, Hawaii, is part of the larger territory recognized by indigenous Hawaiians as their ancestral grandmother, Papahānaumoku. We recognize that generations of indigenous Hawaiians and their knowledge systems shaped Hawaii in a sustainable way that allow us to enjoy her gifts today. For this, we are truly grateful (land acknowledgement from University of Hawai’i Manoa). This work was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation to RMT (IOS 1846520 and DEB 2012041), DMZ (DBI 2010983), TJF (DBI 2208825), and a Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant to AWW). Personnel on this project were also supported by a Morris Animal Foundation grant to RMT (D20ZO-025).

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EDB: Conceptualization (lead), Data curation (equal), Formal analysis (supporting), Investigation (equal), Methodology (equal), Project administration (lead), Supervision (lead), Visualization (lead), Writing-first draft (lead), Writing-reviewing and editing (lead); JHG: Conceptualization (equal), Investigation (equal), Methodology (equal), Visualization (supporting), Writing-first draft (supporting), Writing-reviewing and editing (equal); AWW: Conceptualization (equal), Data curation (equal), Formal analysis (lead), Investigation (equal), Writing-reviewing and editing (supporting); GTW: Investigation (equal), Methodology (equal), Formal analysis (equal), Writing-first draft (supporting), Writing-reviewing and editing (equal); DMZ: Investigation (equal), Formal analysis (equal), Writing-reviewing & editing (equal); TJF: Investigation (equal), Methodology (equal), Formal analysis (supporting), Writing-reviewing and editing (supporting); RMT: Conceptualization (equal), Investigation (equal), Methodology (equal), Visualization (supporting), Writing-first draft (supporting), Writing-reviewing and editing (equal), Supervision (equal), Project administration (equal), Funding acquisition (lead).

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Correspondence to E Dale Broder.

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James H Gallagher, Aaron W Wikle and Gabrielle T Welsh contributed equally

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Broder, E.D., Gallagher, J.H., Wikle, A.W. et al. A well-studied parasitoid fly of field crickets uses multiple alternative hosts in its introduced range. Evol Ecol 37, 477–492 (2023).

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