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Early oviposition experience affects patch residence time in a foraging parasitoid

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Parasitoids learn olfactory and visual cues that are associated with their hosts, and use these cues to forage more efficiently. Classical conditioning theory predicts that encounters with high-quality hosts will lead to better learning of host-associated cues than encounters with low-quality hosts. We tested this prediction in a two-phase laboratory experiment with the parasitoid Trichogramma thalense Pinto & Oatman (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) and the host Anagasta kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae).

Host quality during the first exposure to hosts affected later foraging behavior for some experimental treatments, as predicted. We used a learning model, followed by patch-time optimization, to interpret our findings. We first simulated the parasitoids' host encounters during the experiment, and predicted their estimate of patch quality after each encounter. We then used dynamic optimization to predict the parasitoids' optimal patch residence times. The model reproduces the trends of the experimental results.
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Keywords: Trichogramma thalense; biological control; dynamic state model; habitat selection; learning; parasitoid

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91904, Israel ( ), Email: [email protected] 2: Laboratoire de Physique, Ecole Normale Sup√©rieure, 69364 Lyon cedex 7, France 3: Department of Environmental Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA

Publication date: 2001-02-01

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