Host utilization patterns of the walnut fly, Rhagoletis juglandis, and their implications for female and offspring fitness
AuthorNufio, Cesar R.
AdvisorPapaj, Daniel R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractChoosing where offspring will develop is especially important for insects whose larval stages are restricted to a particular host resource. In such insects, maternal egg laying decisions may not only involve choosing optimal hosts based on their intrinsic qualities but also avoiding hosts occupied by conspecific brood. The ability to discriminate between previously exploited and unexploited hosts is often mediated by the use of a marking pheromone. Despite engaging in what appears to be host-marking behavior, the walnut fly Rhagoletis juglandis prefers to deposit clutches into previously exploited hosts. In this dissertation, I quantified host reuse in R. juglandis and assessed its impacts on offspring fitness. I also explored the role that marking pheromone plays in level of reuse. Host reuse by the walnut fly was common in the field, where trees were synchronously infested over a 14-17 day period. It was not unusual for individual fruit to bear 40-80 eggs; given that females laid clutches of ca. 16 eggs, each oviposition puncture probably contained ca. 1.6 clutches. The overall number of eggs deposited into fruit was positively correlated with fruit volume. Field and laboratory experiments showed that increases in larval densities within fruit reduced larval survival and pupal weight, the latter being strongly correlated with the number of eggs a female produced over her lifetime. The temporal staggering of clutches strongly and negatively impacted survival of later clutches. The effect of spatial patterning of clutches on offspring fitness depended on the number of clutches in the fruit: at higher densities, clutches performed better when deposited into the same puncture than when distributed uniformly over fruit. The evidence taken together suggests that host reuse by the walnut fly, R. juglandis, reduces per capita offspring fitness. Consistent with this inference was a final set of observations on female host-marking behavior. In field-cage experiments, fruit that were marked by females for longer durations were less acceptable to other females. Moreover, the duration of time that a female marked a fruit was positively correlated with the size of her clutch. These results indicate that, while females commonly reuse fruit, they nevertheless signal the level of larval competition associated with a fruit and adjust allocation of eggs to fruit accordingly.
Degree ProgramGraduate College