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Host-Parasitoid Dynamics and the Success of Biological Control When Parasitoids Are Prone to Allee Effects

Abstract : In sexual organisms, low population density can result in mating failures and subsequently yields a low population growth rate and high chance of extinction. For species that are in tight interaction, as in host-parasitoid systems, population dynamics are primarily constrained by demographic interdependences, so that mating failures may have much more intricate consequences. Our main objective is to study the demographic consequences of parasitoid mating failures at low density and its consequences on the success of biological control. For this, we developed a deterministic host-parasitoid model with a mate-finding Allee effect, allowing to tackle interactions between the Allee effect and key determinants of host-parasitoid demography such as the distribution of parasitoid attacks and host competition. Our study shows that parasitoid mating failures at low density result in an extinction threshold and increase the domain of parasitoid deterministic extinction. When proned to mate finding difficulties, parasitoids with cyclic dynamics or low searching efficiency go extinct; parasitoids with high searching efficiency may either persist or go extinct, depending on host intraspecific competition. We show that parasitoids suitable as biocontrol agents for their ability to reduce host populations are particularly likely to suffer from mate-finding Allee effects. This study highlights novel perspectives for understanding of the dynamics observed in natural host-parasitoid systems and improving the success of parasitoid introductions.
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Anaïs Bompard, Isabelle Amat, Xavier Fauvergue, Thierry Spataro. Host-Parasitoid Dynamics and the Success of Biological Control When Parasitoids Are Prone to Allee Effects. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (10), pp.e76768. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0076768⟩. ⟨hal-01537902⟩

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