Master of Science (MSc)
Faculty of Science
The invasive Spotted-Wing fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii, has inflicted substantial economic losses to the soft-fruit agriculture industry worldwide due to the ability of females in this species to use a large, serrated ovipositor to cut the fruit’s skin and lay eggs directly into the mesocarp of ripening fruit. Once the eggs hatch, larvae consume the fruit flesh, ultimately leaving the fruit unmarketable. This species parasitizes numerous commercial fruit types (including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and occasionally grapes) as well as fruits from a variety of wild plant species. Since fruit types vary in their nutritional composition, as well as their spatial and temporal availability, this suggests that D. suzukii experiences considerable environmental heterogeneity. The environment can have a large influence on the development and evolution of morphological, physiological, and behavioural phenotypes and, thus, can have significant implications for individual variation and population growth and change over time. Thus to better understand success if this invasive species we have examined the behavioural and developmental and reproductive performance of D. suzukii as it relates to their local environment. Specifically we focused on the role of the nutritional developmental history (NDH), which can either hinder or support offspring growth and survival, and may be an important factor when selecting habitats. Secondly, as the juvenile NDH has the potential to greatly influence adult phenotypes, and consequently individual reproductive potential, we also examined if NDH influenced the operation of sexual selection. Here we report evidence that NDH is an important factor for D. suzukii females when choosing oviposition sites, and can have dramatic consequences for offspring development, mate-choice, offspring fitness, and ultimately population growth. Information on these two subject areas (habitat and mate choice) is of great potential importance to bettering future management strategies (e.g. by manipulating fly numbers based on host preference and reproductive strategies), which are currently limited by lack of knowledge on the biology of this species.
Young, Yvonne; Buckiewicz, Natasha; and Long, Tristan AF Dr., "Behavioral Ecology of an Invasive Species: Habitat and Mate Preference(s) in Drosophila Suzukii" (2017). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1982.