Larval Competition, Adult Fitness, and Reproductive Strategies in the Acoustically Orienting Ormiine Homotrixa alleni (Diptera: Tachinidae)
Allen, GR and Hunt, J, Larval Competition, Adult Fitness, and Reproductive Strategies in the Acoustically Orienting Ormiine Homotrixa alleni (Diptera: Tachinidae), Journal of Insect Behaviour, 14, (3) pp. 283-297. ISSN 0892-7553 (2001) [Refereed Article]
Homotrixa alleni is a gregarious endoparasitoid fly that attacks adult male Sciarasaga quadrata (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) in southwestern Western Australia. Gravid female flies acoustically orient to their host's call and deposit live first-instar larvae upon or near their calling host. Up to 16 larvae may be found developing in the one host, and since only calling adult male S. quadrata are parasitized, host size and hence larval resources are essentially fixed at parasitism. This study examines parasitism by H. alleni in relation to intraspecific larval competition and adult fitness. The mean number of larvae emerging per host failed to increase significantly beyond a clutch size of four. Mean pupal weight and survival to the adult stage decreased linearly with increasing clutch size across the entire range of clutch sizes examined. Within a clutch, heavier pupae successfully completed pupal development significantly more often than lighter pupae. Pupal weight was directly related to adult size, with adult males being significantly larger than adult females at any given pupal weight. Female body size was positively correlated with fecundity. The size distribution of emerging females was normally distributed, while the distribution of searching gravid females collected at acoustic traps in the field was significantly skewed toward larger flies, suggesting yet another fitness benefit associated with large size. Using fecundity and survival to adulthood as our measure of fitness we calculated the optimal clutch size maximizing fitness per host to be seven, which exceeds the majority of observed clutch sizes in the field. Uncertainties associated with larvae successfully entering the host following larviposition are likely to reduce clutch sizes of H. alleni below this optimum in the field.