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Very long diapause and extreme resistance to population disturbance in a galling insect

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1. Some insects have a prolonged diapause – a dormancy that extends over more than 1 year. In most species prolonged diapause involves one or a few extra years, but in extreme cases diapause may surpass 10 years. Few cases of very long diapause have been described, and very little is known about the population consequences of the temporal refuge formed by the diapausing individuals.

2. The gall midge Contarinia vincetoxici Kieffer galls the flowers of a long‐lived herb Vincetoxicum hirundinaria Med. After completing development, larvae leave the galls for the ground where they enter diapause. Extending an earlier published inoculation experiment, we show that the diapause may last up to at least 13 years, with a median duration of at least 6 years.

3. The gall midge is attacked by two parasitoid species. Dissections of gall midge larvae for presence of parasitoids revealed that Omphale salicis Haliday had a maximum 2 year diapause and Synopeas acuminatus Kieffer a maximum 4 years. The very long diapause of the gall midge may thus provide a temporal refuge from these enemies.

4. In a 15‐year field experiment all galls were removed every year from six isolated habitat patches. Density changes in experimental populations were not statistically different from control populations for over a decade. After 14–15 years a modest decline could be observed. This slow response illustrates that prolonged diapause in C. vincetoxici provides a very strong population buffer against mortality during the galling stage.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: 2012-02-01

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