Effects of brood parasitism on host reproductive success: evidence from larval interactions among dung beetles

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2003
Authors:A. Gonzalez-Megias, Sanchez-Pinero F.
Date Published:Jan
Accession Number:ISI:000180822900005
Keywords:abundance, aphodius ater, assemblage, cleptoparasite, COLEOPTERA, community, coprophagous beetles, desert ecology, hymenoptera, intraspecific competition, kleptoparasitism, Larval mortality, resource utilization, Scarabaeidae

This paper investigates the effect of brood parasitism in a dung beetle assemblage in an arid region of Spain. The study was conducted during the spring season (March-May 1994-1998) using mesh cylinders buried into the ground, filled with sand and with sheep dung on top. We quantified the proportion of nests containing larvae of parasitic beetles and their effect on host larvae survival. Experiments on the effect of parasitic larvae on host-larvae survival were conducted by placing scarab brood masses (raised from captive scarabs in the laboratory) in containers with and without aphodiid larvae. During the spring, dung desiccation is rapid, preventing aphodiids nesting in the dung, and forcing these species to adopt brood parasitism as a nesting strategy. Parasitic aphodiids were found in 12-47% of scarab nests of three species. The incidence of brood parasitization was positively related with the number of brood masses contained in the nests, being also higher in the most abundant species. Field data and experiments showed that brood parasites significantly reduced host larvae survival from 74.8% in non-parasitized nests to 8.8% in parasitized nests. Because different rates of nest parasitization and mortality were caused by parasites, brood parasitism had a differential effect on different host species. Thus, brood, parasitism constitutes an important mortality factor reducing the reproductive success of the host species and potentially affecting the beetle abundance in the area.

URL:<Go to ISI>://000180822900005
Alternate Journal:Oecologia
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith