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Direct and indirect effects of egg parasitism by Neopolycystus Girault sp. (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) on Paropsis atomaria Olivier (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

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Neopolycystus sp. is the only primary egg parasitoid associated with the pest beetle Paropsis atomaria in subtropical eucalypt plantations, but its impact on its host populations is unknown. The simplified ecosystem represented by the plantation habitat, lack of interspecific competition for host and parasitoid, and the multivoltinism of the host population makes this an ideal system for quantifying the direct and indirect effects of egg parasitism, and hence, effects on host population dynamics. Within-, between- and overall-egg-batch parasitism rates were determined at three field sites over two field seasons, and up to seven host generations. The effect of exposure time (egg batch age), host density proximity to native forest and water sources on egg parasitism rates was also tested. Neopolycystus sp. exerts a significant influence on P. atomaria populations in Eucalyptus cloeziana. plantations in south-eastern Queensland, causing the direct (13%) and indirect (15%) mortality of almost one-third of all eggs in the field. Across seasons and generations, 45% of egg batches were parasitised, with a within-batch parasitism rate of around 30%. Between-batch parasitism increased up to 5–6 days after oviposition in the field, although within-batch parasitism rates generally did not. However, there were few apparent patterns to egg parasitism, with rates often varying significantly between sites and seasons.
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Keywords: eucalypt; parasitoid; paropsine

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Natural Resource Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, GPO Box 2434, Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia. 2: Horticulture and Forestry Science, Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries, Gate 3 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly, Qld 4068, Australia.

Publication date: August 1, 2008

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