Evolutionary Character Changes and Population Responses in an Insect Host-Parasitoid Experimental System

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In an insect host (the cowpea weevil Callosobruchus maculatus)-parasitoid (Heterospilus prosopidis) experimental system, the population densities of the component species oscillated for the first 20 generations and then abruptly stabilized as the parasitoid density decreased. Examination of the host and parasitoid after the 40th generation in the long-term experiment showed that (1) host larvae exhibited contest-type competition (killing other larvae inhabiting the same bean), in contrast to the founder population being scramble-type competitors and (2) the parasitoid attack rate on the host did not change. There was also an evolutionary trade-off between body size and the rates of larval survival and development, suggesting a cost of contest competition on larval survivorship and development. I tested model predictions (Tuda and Iwasa 1998) that (1) host equilibrium population size should gradually decrease as the proportion of the contest type increases and that (2) random attacks of the parasitoid on the host should reduce the rate of increase in proportion of the contest type, and the effect should become manifest especially during the first 20 generations. Two of three host-only replicates showed significant decrease in population sizes. Although the density of emerging adults per bean did not differ between replicates of the host-only and host-parasitoid systems, comparison of the host body size between them on day 270 (at the 13th generation) showed that the host was more contest-type in the host-only system than in the host-parasitoid system, as the model predicted, and later on day 650 the effect of the parasitoid had disappeared.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-299
Number of pages7
JournalResearches on Population Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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