Invaders on the move: parasitism in the sexual galls of four alien gall wasps in Britain (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae)

K. Schönrogge , P. Walker , M. J. Crawley


Four alien, host–alternating cynipid gall wasps are established in the British Isles: Andricus kollari, A. lignicola, A. quercuscalicis and A. corruptrix. Their current distributions divide Britain into four zones; all four invaders are present in the south and south–east of Britain, whereas only A. kollari is present in the far north of Scotland. The rank order, according to how far north the distributions of the four invading cynipid species reach, is: A. corruptrixA. quercuscalicisA. lignicolaA. kollari.

The life cycles of all four cynipid species involve a sexual generation in spring on Quercus cerris, and an agamic generation in autumn on Q. robur. Here we studied the parasitoid attack by four pteromalid species on the sexual generations of the invaders. We collected and reared the galls of all four species at eight sites from the south to the north of the country (two sites per zone). The geographical locations of the sites reflect the invasion history and thus the residence time of the alien species in the four zones. At each site we measured the densities of all host galls on Q. cerris and of both obligatory host–tree species. We also took a series of measures, such as host–tree density and mean host–tree size, to further characterize the tree stands. These measures are referred to as local parameters.

Host densities varied between sites and between years. In A. kollari, galling rates were highest in the middle of the country (zone 2) in 1994, whereas in 1995 they increased from the south to the north. In A. lignicola, galling rates in both years were lowest at the sites in zone 3 (closest to its distribution boundary). In A. quercuscalicis, galling rates were found to be lowest at the site most to the north–west in both years, again the one furthest away from the area where this species was first recorded.

Mortality caused by parasitoid attack differed from less than 10% to as high as 70% and varied between host species, sites and years. In four out of six cases the historical/regional variables (north/south and east/west) correlated significantly with parasitoid attack rates that were characteristically lowest at sites close to the distribution boundaries. Of the local factors, we found parasitoid attack rates correlated negatively in one case with host density, whereas they correlated positively in four cases with the density of alternative hosts of the parasitoids. In one of the models the local density of Q. cerris trees correlated negatively with parasitoid attack on A. quercuscalicis. For all three host species the terms retained in the minimal adequate models obtained for 1994 and 1995 differed, which might indicate that these communities of native parasitoids and invading host have not yet settled in any definite structure.