The optimal oviposition strategies of parasitoids, the host range, and the number of eggs laid per host which result in the maximum lifetime performance of reproduction, are investigated. To study the effects of parasitoid mortality and of limiting total number of eggs laid by a parasitoid, a standard criterion used in previous theories of optimal diet and optimal patch use, the maximization of the foraging rate, is no longer suitable. The model is solved analytically by using dynamic programming. The results are as follows: The host preference of solitary parasitoids depends on the mortality during handling times; i.e., the forager tends to avoid hosts with high risk of foraging mortality. If the total number of eggs produced by a parasitoid is limited, and if the mortality during handling is negligible, the host range is wider when a larger number of eggs remains in the parasitoid's body. In general, however, the mortality-cost of forager and the egg-cost interplay, because the loss of future reproduction by mortality increases with the number of available eggs. In an example with two host types, host range is widest with an intermediate number of eggs available in the body. The optimal number of eggs per host laid by a gregarious parasitoid is also affected by the differential mortality of the forager, and by the number of available eggs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics