Superparasitism as an ESS: To reject or not to reject, that is the question
van der Hoeven, N.
A stochastic model is formulated to determine the optimal strategy for a solitary parasitoid which has discovered an already parasitized host. The model assumes that the parasitoid can count both the number of eggs already present in a host and the number of conspecifics searching in the same patch. The survival probability of an egg is assumed to depend on the total number of eggs in a host. The decision to (super)parasitize depends both on the degree to which the discovered host already is parasitized and on the number of conspecific females searching in the same patch. We consider both the case that egg laying does not involve any costs for the parasitoid and the case that it involves some marginal costs. Uniform behaviour of all the conspecific parasitoids in a patch, i.e. laying one additional egg in all encountered larvae containing a particular number of eggs, appears to be a pure evolutionary stable strategy (ESS). If either the probability that a parasitoid emerges from a host decreases with an increasing degree of parasitism, at least from a particular number of eggs onwards, or if parasitism involves marginal costs, the maximum number of eggs for which it is still profitable to superparasitize a host once more is limited. This number increases with the number of conspecifics searching in the patch. Large marginal costs (i.e. the expected gain of not parasitizing now) decrease the profit of superparasitism. For newly emerged parasitoids the rejection of an already parasitized host is not advantageous as long as the marginal costs of parasitism are small, because the host can never contain an egg of its own.
To reference this document use:
Parasite Egg Count
Journal of Theoretical Biology, 146 (4), 467-482