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Bili Mikaël

Differenciation elements of ecological niches for two competiting coleopteran parasitoids : behavior and bacterial communities

PhD defended decembre 18th, 2014
Direction: Denis Poinsot et Anne-Marie Cortesero


When two species live in the same ecological niche, they compete for resources. Since a limited access to resources reduces fitness, interspecific competition represents a selection pressure that can lead to physiological or behavioral changes to share resources, because not sharing them will cause the displacement or disappearance of the weaker competitor. Aleochara bilineata and Aleocharabipustulata are two coleopteran parasitoids and attack the same host, the cabbage root fly Delia radicum. These two species have different biological parameters, particularly in their life history traits (which seem to favor A. bipustulata) and host spectrum (A. bipustulata is more generalist). These two species share the same strategy to exploit their host (idiobiont ectoparasitoid). Unlike parasitoid wasps (the object of most studies on parasitoids) coleopteran parasitoid females do not lay their eggs directly inside the host but in locations likely to harbour hosts. Aleochara first instars are mobile and need to find and select a host where they will develop. There is thus the possibility of behavioral adaptations to competition for both for adults and first instars. In this project, we have chosen to explore the ecological niche of these two species in an original way by studying behavioral changes induced by the presence of competitors both in adult females and first instars. We also studied bacterial communities associated to the two competing species but also those of their host D. radicum and of another competitor, the parasitoid wasp Trybliographa rapae, in order to later study the impacts of different bacterial partners in the ecological niche of the two beetle species in competition. Our results show that females of the specialist A. bilineata adapt their behavior to the competitors they face and select oviposition sites with the best probability of parasitism success. Moreover, first instars of A. bilineata dominate the larval competition when competing with larvae of the generalist A. bipustulata. Finally, bacterial communities of the two rove beetles are closer to each other than other members of the food web studied and their differences should be investigated. These results are discussed in the context of behavioral adaptation of specialists to the presence of generalist competitors and the coexistence of these two species in the field.