Colonisation of sub-Antarctic Marion Island by a non-indigenous aphid parasitoid Aphidius matricariae (Hymenoptera, Braconidae)

J. E. Lee, S. Slabber, B. Jansen Van Vuuren, S. Van Noort, S. L. Chown

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Over the past two decades seven non-indigenous vascular plant or arthropod species have established reproducing populations at sub-Antarctic Marion Island (46°54′S, 37°55′E). Here we record the eighth establishment, a braconid wasp Aphidius matricariae Haliday, which uses the aphid Rhopalosiphum padi (Linnaeus) as its only host on the island. Molecular markers (18S rDNA and mtCOI) support the conventional taxonomic identification and indicate that all individuals are characterized by a single haplotype. Surveys around the island show that adult abundance and the frequency of aphid parasitism are highest at Macaroni Bay on the east coast, and decline away from this region to low or zero values elsewhere on the coast. The South African research and supply vessel, the SA Agulhas, regularly anchors at Macaroni Bay, and Aphidius sp. have been collected from its galley hold. Current abundance structure, low haplotype diversity, and the operating procedures of the SA Agulhas all suggest that the parasitoid was introduced to the island by humans. Regular surveys indicate that this introduction took place between April 2001 and April 2003, the latter being the first month when this species was detected. The wasp's establishment has significantly added to trophic complexity on the island. Low haplotype diversity suggests that propagule pressure is of little consequence for insect introductions. Rather, single or just a few individuals are probably sufficient for successful establishment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1195-1201
Number of pages7
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007
Externally publishedYes

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