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      Experimental infection of a periodical cicada ( Magicicada cassinii) with a parasitoid ( Emblemasoma auditrix) of a proto-periodical cicada ( Okanagana rimosa)


      BMC Ecology

      BioMed Central

      Host location, Host suitability, Evolution of periodicity, Auditory system

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          The proto-periodical cicada Okanagana rimosa is subject to infection by the acoustically orientating parasitoid fly Emblemasoma auditrix. Furthermore, it is also the only known host of E. auditrix. Here we test the question, whether the highly adapted parasitoid can also infect other cicadas, like the periodical cicada (Magicicada cassinii) and which steps of the parasitization process can be completed. The experiments might also reveal whether such a parasitoid could hypothetically have been involved in the evolution of periodicity.


          The hearing threshold of E. auditrix matches with the spectrum of the calling song of M. cassinii, indicating potential host localization. Behaviourally, host localization is possible by the parasitoid as it approaches a loudspeaker broadcasting the buzz part of the calling song of M. cassinii. Magicicada cassinii is readily accepted as host and for host infection the parasitoid uses the same behavioural sequence as for its host O. rimosa. A larva is deposited into the timbal of the cicada. By contrast to O. rimosa the development of the fly larva is delayed and eventually suppressed in M. cassinii.


          The host range of E. auditrix is mainly determined by acoustic parameters. This filter is important, as other sensory cues seem not to be involved in the host selection process and larva will not develop in unsuited host. Although the recent parasitoid-host system seems to be stable in terms of coexistence of both species, an acoustically hunting parasitoid could have been a selective force during evolution of prime numbered periodicity in cicadas.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Host Selection by Insect Parasitoids

           S. B. VINSON (1976)
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            The Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution of Periodical Cicadas

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              The combined effects of pathogens and predators on insect outbreaks.

              The economic damage caused by episodic outbreaks of forest-defoliating insects has spurred much research, yet why such outbreaks occur remains unclear. Theoretical biologists argue that outbreaks are driven by specialist pathogens or parasitoids, because host-pathogen and host-parasitoid models show large-amplitude, long-period cycles resembling time series of outbreaks. Field biologists counter that outbreaks occur when generalist predators fail, because predation in low-density defoliator populations is usually high enough to prevent outbreaks. Neither explanation is sufficient, however, because the time between outbreaks in the data is far more variable than in host-pathogen and host-parasitoid models, and far shorter than in generalist-predator models. Here we show that insect outbreaks can be explained by a model that includes both a generalist predator and a specialist pathogen. In this host-pathogen-predator model, stochasticity causes defoliator densities to fluctuate erratically between an equilibrium maintained by the predator, and cycles driven by the pathogen. Outbreaks in this model occur at long but irregular intervals, matching the data. Our results suggest that explanations of insect outbreaks must go beyond classical models to consider interactions among multiple species.

                Author and article information

                BMC Ecol
                BMC Ecol
                BMC Ecology
                BioMed Central (London )
                14 December 2014
                14 December 2014
                : 14
                : 1
                Integrative Sensory Physiology, Institute of Animal Physiology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Heinrich-Buff Ring 26, D 35392 Giessen, Germany
                © Lakes-Harlan and de Vries; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                © The Author(s) 2014


                host location, host suitability, evolution of periodicity, auditory system


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