Comparing insect communities on native Dutch wild mustard plants over a growing season

Comparing insect communities on native Dutch wild mustard plants over a growing season

Terrestrial Ecology

Contact Person:

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

Host-plant suitability and quality for herbivore (and possibly natural enemy) development is determined by the presence of sufficient levels of nutrients and concentrations of adverse metabolites such as specific secondary plant compounds and digestibility reducers. In nature, these characteristics are dynamic and can change within individual plants over the course of a growing season. Many species of multivoltine insects (insects have more than one generation per year) are known to attack short-lived annual plants i.e. plants that are present for only 1or 2 months in the field. These short-lived plants may germinate and grow at different times and/or locations during the growing season. In this situation, each herbivore generation is faced with the challenge of leaving the natal patch to find and lay eggs on a different plant species that may be growing some distance from where they themselves developed. At the same time, the quality of the different food plant species on which they feed and grow over the spring and summer seasons may also be highly variable.

In this study, we aim to examine: Do insects have a preference for a specific host plant species when they are grown simultaneously in the field? We will grow the three different host plants in the field and set two subsets. One subset will be used to record the incidence and abundance of herbivores, and measure parasitism. The other subset, we inoculate herbivores to test for presence of natural enemies.”

Location: Wageningen (Netherlands Institute of Ecology)

Duration: The field season is from April until September. Minimum duration: 3 months, or suitable for a thesis and/or internship.