1. Invasive alien species are a major threat to biodiversity. In addition to predation and parasitism, native species might suffer from competition when invasive alien species occupy a similar ecological niche. 2. This study focused on the potential interspecific interaction between two hornets: the Asian yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina, a high-concern invasive alien species recently arrived in Europe; and the native European hornet, Vespa crabro. The two species share a similar ecological niche and V. velutina is rapidly expanding across Europe, which suggests that V. crabro might suffer from competition. 3. Under laboratory-controlled conditions, two life-history traits that might cause the two species to compete were investigated: (i) the ability of workers to find food sources and their flexibility in exploiting them (through individual food item choice tests and exploration assays); and (ii) the worker resistance to pathogens (through immune challenge tests). 4. The results show that trophic preference of both species highly overlaps, with a marked dietary preference for honeybees compared with other insect prey and non-prey protein items.No differences were observed in the exploratory behaviour of both species. Finally, constitutive antibacterial activity was greater in workers of the native species than in workers of the invasive hornet. 5. This laboratory study provides a first assessment under controlled conditions of the factors affecting competition between workers of two hornet species and proposes a framework to assess, in wild contexts, the magnitude of the competition and the impact of the introduced V. velutina on the native V. crabro.

Competition between the native and the introduced hornets Vespa crabro and Vespa velutina: a comparison of potentially relevant life-history traits

Cini A.;
2018

Abstract

1. Invasive alien species are a major threat to biodiversity. In addition to predation and parasitism, native species might suffer from competition when invasive alien species occupy a similar ecological niche. 2. This study focused on the potential interspecific interaction between two hornets: the Asian yellow-legged hornet, Vespa velutina, a high-concern invasive alien species recently arrived in Europe; and the native European hornet, Vespa crabro. The two species share a similar ecological niche and V. velutina is rapidly expanding across Europe, which suggests that V. crabro might suffer from competition. 3. Under laboratory-controlled conditions, two life-history traits that might cause the two species to compete were investigated: (i) the ability of workers to find food sources and their flexibility in exploiting them (through individual food item choice tests and exploration assays); and (ii) the worker resistance to pathogens (through immune challenge tests). 4. The results show that trophic preference of both species highly overlaps, with a marked dietary preference for honeybees compared with other insect prey and non-prey protein items.No differences were observed in the exploratory behaviour of both species. Finally, constitutive antibacterial activity was greater in workers of the native species than in workers of the invasive hornet. 5. This laboratory study provides a first assessment under controlled conditions of the factors affecting competition between workers of two hornet species and proposes a framework to assess, in wild contexts, the magnitude of the competition and the impact of the introduced V. velutina on the native V. crabro.
Cini, A.; Cappa, F.; Petrocelli, I.; Pepiciello, I.; Bortolotti, L.; Cervo, R.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/1141737
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