Optimal patch-leaving behaviour: A case study using the parasitoid Cotesia rubecula

Brigitte Tenhumberg, Mike A. Keller, Hugh P. Possingham, Andrew J. Tyre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


1. Parasitoids are predicted to spend longer in patches with more hosts, but previous work on Cotesia rubecula (Marshall) has not upheld this prediction. Tests of theoretical predictions may be affected by the definition of patch leaving behaviour, which is often ambiguous. 2. In this study whole plants were considered as patches and assumed that wasps move within patches by means of walking or flying. Within-patch and between-patch flights were distinguished based on flight distance. The quality of this classification was tested statistically by examination of log-survivor curves of flight times. 3. Wasps remained longer in patches with higher host densities, which is consistent with predictions of the marginal value theorem (Charnov 1976). Under the assumption that each flight indicates a patch departure, there is no relationship between host density and leaving tendency. 4. Oviposition influences the patch leaving behaviour of wasps in a count down fashion (Driessen et al. 1995), as predicted by an optimal foraging model (Tenhumberg, Keller & Possingham 2001). 5. Wasps spend significantly longer in the first patch encountered following release, resulting in an increased rate of superparasitism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-691
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cox's proportional hazards model
  • Host density
  • Oviposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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