Extrinsic inter- and intraspecific competition in parasitoid wasps.
The diverse ecology of parasitoids is shaped by extrinsic competition, i.e., exploitative or interference competition among adult females and males for hosts and mates. Adult females use an array of morphological, chemical, and behavioral mechanisms to engage in competition that may be either intra- or interspecific. Weaker competitors are often excluded or, if they persist, use alternate host habitats, host developmental stages, or host species. Competition among adult males for mates is almost exclusively intraspecific and involves visual displays, chemical signals, and even physical combat. Extrinsic competition influences community structure through its role in competitive displacement and apparent competition. Finally, anthropogenic changes such as habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species, pollutants, and climate change result in phenological mismatches and range expansions within host-parasitoid communities with consequent changes to the strength of competitive interactions. Such changes have important ramifications not only for the success of managed agroecosystems, but also for natural ecosystem functioning.