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Effects of environmental parameters on the chestnut gall wasp and its complex of indigenous parasitoids

Bonsignore, CarmeloPeter, Bernardo, Umberto
Die Naturwissenschaften 2018 v.105 no.3-4 pp. 20
Castanea, Dryocosmus kuriphilus, coppicing, decay fungi, environmental factors, galls, models, mortality, orchards, parasitism, parasitoids, population density, species diversity, spring, summer, temperature, China, Italy
The chestnut gall wasp (CGW), Dryocosmus kuriphilus, an invasive pest native to China, has caused severe yield and economic losses to chestnut production in Europe since its arrival in 2002. In Southern Italy, the complex of indigenous parasitoids colonizing CGW was monitored between 2013 and 2015, with the aim of estimating the composition of the indigenous parasitoid complex, its ability to control CGW populations, and the interactions of both factors with several measured environmental parameters. We compared results among three differently managed field types. Results showed an increase in the rate of parasitism both when the host population density was lower and in unmanaged chestnut stands with more natural conditions. The percentage of parasitism in galls was related to morphological traits of the galls and to higher seasonal temperatures, which reduced the parasitism intensity because CGW develops earlier under such conditions. The host–parasitoid mortality inside galls varied among sites and was associated mostly with rot fungi during wet spring and summer months. Parasitoid species richness was similar among the study sites, but the proportion of parasitoid species differed between orchards and unmanaged coppice stands. The timing of attack by parasitoids followed a species-specific successional sequence throughout the larva-to-adult life cycle of the CGW. These interactions should be considered in future research on trophic relationships and when modeling invasive scenarios for new pest species.