Thermal resilience may shape population abundance of two sympatric congeneric Cotesia species (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)

Reyard Mutamiswa, Botswana International University of Science Technology, Frank Chidawanyika, Casper Nyamukondiwa

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Basal and plasticity of thermal tolerance determine abundance, biogeographical patterns and activity of insects over spatial and temporal scales. For coexisting stemborer parasitoids, offering synergistic impact for biological control, mismatches in thermal tolerance may influence their ultimate impact in biocontrol programs under climate variability. Using laboratory-reared congeneric parasitoid species Cotesia sesamiae Cameron and Cotesia flavipes Cameron (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), we examined basal thermal tolerance to understand potential impact of climate variability on their survival and limits to activity. We measured upper- and lower -lethal temperatures (ULTs and LLTs), critical thermal limits [CTLs] (CTmin and CTmax), supercooling points (SCPs), chill-coma recovery time (CCRT) and heat knock-down time (HKDT) of adults. Results showed LLTs ranging -5 to 5°C and -15 to -1°C whilst ULTs ranged 35 to 42°C and 37 to 44°C for C. sesamiae and C. flavipes respectively. Cotesia flavipes had significantly higher heat tolerance (measured as CTmax), as well as cold tolerance (measured as CTmin) relative to C. sesamiae (P0.05), C. flavipes recovered significantly faster following chill-coma and had higher HKDT compared to C. sesamiae. The results suggest marked differential basal thermal tolerance responses between the two congeners, with C. flavipes having an advantage at both temperature extremes. Thus, under predicted climate change, the two species may differ in phenologies and biogeography with consequences on their efficacy as biological control agents. These results may assist in predicting spatio-temporal activity patterns which can be used in integrated pest management programs under climate variability.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0191840
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2018


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