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Population structure of a large blue butterfly and its specialist parasitoid in a fragmented landscape.

Authors
  • Anton, Christian
  • Zeisset, Inga
  • Musche, Martin
  • Durka, Walter
  • Boomsma, Jacobus J
  • Settele, Josef
Type
Published Article
Journal
Molecular ecology
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2007
Volume
16
Issue
18
Pages
3828–3838
Identifiers
PMID: 17850549
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation may interrupt trophic interactions if herbivores and their specific parasitoids respond differently to decreasing connectivity of populations. Theoretical models predict that species at higher trophic levels are more negatively affected by isolation than lower trophic level species. By combining ecological data with genetic information from microsatellite markers we tested this hypothesis on the butterfly Maculinea nausithous and its specialist hymenopteran parasitoid Neotypus melanocephalus. We assessed the susceptibility of both species to habitat fragmentation by measuring population density, rate of parasitism, overall genetic differentiation (theta(ST)) and allelic richness in a large metapopulation. We also simulated the dynamics of genetic differentiation among local populations to asses the relative effects of migration rate, population size, and haplodiploid (parasitoid) and diploid (host) inheritance on metapopulation persistence. We show that parasitism by N. melanocephalus is less frequent at larger distances to the nearest neighbouring population of M. nausithous hosts, but that host density itself is not affected by isolation. Allelic richness was independent of isolation, but the mean genetic differentiation among local parasitoid populations increased with the distance between these populations. Overall, genetic differentiation in the parasitoid wasp was much greater than in the butterfly host and our simulations indicate that this difference is due to a combination of haplodiploidy and small local population sizes. Our results thus support the hypothesis that Neotypus parasitoid wasps are more sensitive to habitat fragmentation than their Maculinea butterfly hosts.

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