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Host Fidelity and Apparent Competition in Host-Parasitoid SystemsEPA Grant Number: U915224
Title: Host Fidelity and Apparent Competition in Host-Parasitoid Systems
Investigators: Brassil, Chad E.
Institution: University of Maryland - College Park
EPA Project Officer: Smith, Bernice
Project Period: January 1, 1997 through January 1, 2000
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1997) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Fellowship - Ecology and Ecosystems
The objective of this research project is to understand the possible dynamics of a two-host, one-parasitoid system in which the parasitoid preferentially searches for hosts on plants from which it emerged. This research will be conducted at both the theoretical level and the laboratory level. Many ecological and evolutionary aspects will be considered, including indirect effects between hosts and maintenance of biodiversity.
I will be extending the models of host fidelity to include more empirical realism. For example, a searching parasitoid that fails to find a host on the plant type on which it is searching will begin to search on all plant types. This empirical reality could profoundly effect the results of the model. Simulations are conducted using a combination of Mathematica and C++. Simultaneously, I am developing populations in the laboratory that will allow me to test my theoretical predictions. Laboratory studies, in this case, are viewed as an intermediate step to full understanding of natural systems. My laboratory studies will be conducted using Plodia interpunctella and another stored product moth along with a well-studied parasitoid such as Venturia canescens. The three species will be established in cages with a dividing mesh that allows the parasitoid to move back and forth without allowing the moths to directly interact. The stored product on which the larvae are feeding, be it wheat, oats, or corn, can be easily manipulated to study the population dynamics of the system in a controlled, replicated setting.