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Can host-range allow niche differentiation of invasive polyphagous fruit flies (Diptera : Tephritidae) in la Réunion?

Duyck P.F., David P., Pavoine S., Quilici S.. 2008. Ecological Entomology, 33 (4) : p. 439-452.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2008.00989.x

1. Biological invasions bring together formerly isolated insect taxa and allow the study of ecological interactions between species with no coevolutionary history. Among polyphagous insects, such species may competitively exclude each other unless some form of niche partitioning allows them to coexist. 2. In the present study, we investigate whether the ability to exploit different fruits can increase the likelihood of coexistence of four species of polyphagous Tephritidae, one endemic and three successive invaders, in the island of La Réunion. In the laboratory, we studied the performances of all four species on the four most abundant fruit resources in the island, as well as the relative abundances of fly species on these four fruit species in the field. We observe no indication of niche partitioning for any of the four abundant fruits. 3. Analyses of an extensive field data series suggest that: (i) the four fly species largely overlap in fruit exploitation, once climatic effects are accounted for; (ii) however, one species (Ceratitis capitata) can exploit rare fruit species that are not exploited by others present in the same climatic niche; and (iii) the endemic species C. catoirii, now nearly extinct in La Réunion, has no private niche with respect to either climatic range or fruit use. 4. On the whole, with the possible exception of C. capitata, the results point to a limited role of fruit diversity in encouraging coexistence among polyphagous tephritids recently brought into contact by accidental introductions.

Mots-clés : tephritidae; insecte déprédateur des fruits; dynamique des populations; plante hôte; Écologie animale; espèce envahissante; ceratitis capitata; biotope; réunion; france; mouche des fruits

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