Geographic structure in the searching behaviour of a specialist parasitoid: Combining molecular and behavioural approaches

D. M. Althoff, J. N. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


An increasing number of studies have shown that the traits important to species interactions may differ geographically among populations or groups of populations within a single interacting species. We examined geographic structure in the searching behaviour of a recently discovered parasitoid in the genus Agathis (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) by examining the pattern of population structure obtained from sequence data of mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I and the pattern of population differentiation in female searching behaviour. Analyses of population structure showed no isolation by distance and suggested long distance dispersal among populations. This pattern is consistent with recent post-glacial expansion of Agathis n. sp. Observations of searching behaviour demonstrated that populations of Agathis n. sp. differed in a subset of the behavioural traits examined and also one morphological trait. These population differences appear to be driven in part by local host plant characteristics, and based on the population structure of Agathis n. sp., have arisen relatively quickly in evolutionary time. This study suggests that the interaction between parasitoids and their host insects may exhibit substantial geographic variation, and studies that focus at the level of single populations or the species-level may be missing much of the evolutionary dynamics of parasitoid-host interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-417
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Geographic differences
  • Host location
  • Parasitoid-host interactions
  • Population structure
  • mtDNA phylogeography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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