Host-size-dependent sex ratio in a parasitoid wasp

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Charnov's host-size model explains parasitoid host-size-dependent sex ratio as an adaptive consequence when there is a differential effect of host size on the offspring fitness of parasitoid males versus females. This article tests the predictions and the assumptions of the host-size model. The parasitoid wasp Pimpla nipponica Uchida (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) laid more female eggs in larger or fresher host pupae when choice among hosts of different sizes or ages was allowed. Then, whether an asymmetrical effect of host size and age on the fitness of females versus males existed in P. nipponica was examined. Larger or fresher host pupae yielded larger wasps. Larger females lived longer, whereas male size did not influence male longevity. Large males mated successfully with relatively large females but failed with small females, whereas small males could mate successfully either with small or with large females. Thus, small-male advantages were found, and this held true even under male-male competition. Ovariole and egg numbers at any one time did not differ among females of different sizes. Larger females attained higher oviposition success and spent less time and energy for oviposition in hosts. Larger females produced more eggs from a single host meal. Taken together, females gained more, and males lost more, by being large. Host size and age thus asymmetrically affected the fitness of offspring males versus females through the relationships between host size or hast age and wasp size, which means the basic assumption of the host-size model was satisfied. Therefore, sex ratio control by P. nipponica in response to host size and age is adaptive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalResearches on Population Ecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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