Trap-nesting biology of an ectoparasitoid spider wasp, Auplopus subaurarius (Hymenoptera: Pompilidae): the importance of wooded environments for niche generalist species

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2023-01-01

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The insect group is one of the most diverse on the planet and due to habitat degradation, many of these species are becoming extinct, leaving a lack of information on the basic biology of each one. In this study, previously unseen information about nesting biology is revealed in Auplopus subaurarius trap nests. This is a solitary ectoparasitoid spider wasp that nests in preexisting cavities. We used a trap-nesting methodology to sample A. subaurarius in two different sampling periods (2017/2018 and 2020/2021) in three types of environment (forest, grassland and Eucalyptus plantation). In our study, the A. subaurarius nest building was more frequent during the hottest months of the year (November to March), with its highest abundance found within natural forest areas and in Eucalyptus plantation than in grassland areas. In addition, the species had two development times: a short one (three months) and a delayed one (up to one year). Moreover, females were larger than males (weight and size) and the species’ sex ratio had a tendency toward female production. Auplopus subaurarius presented seven natural enemy species: Ceyxia longispina, Caenochrysis crotonis, Photochryptus sp.1, Photochryptus sp.2, Messatoporus sp., Ephuta icema and Sphaeropthalma sp. We emphasize the importance of wooded environments to maintain the A. subaurarius populations and their associated interactors, both spiders and natural enemies, as these environments can provide better life conditions than grassland areas. Furthermore, other solitary wasps that may have the same lifestyle of A. subaurarius can also be improved by natural forest conservation and by good silviculture plantation planning, which should consider ecological aspects of Atlantic Forest landscapes.

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Araucaria forest, Eucalyptus, sex ratio, solitary, trap-nest

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Brazilian Journal of Biology, v. 83.

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