Multitrophic Ecology

There are two complementary ways that ecologists look at the interacting food-web community involving hyperparasitoids. One aspect is the "bottom-up" effect beginning with the first trophic level that shows both inter- and intraspecific plant variation influencing the ecology and behavior of the second trophic level of phytophagous (herbivorous) insects. This in turn is one of the fundamental determinants of the third trophic level of entomophagous (carnivorous) insects such as the primary parasitoid microwasps. Finally, insect hyperparasitism is the highly evolved fourth trophic level, wherein a secondary parasitoid microwasp oviposits on or in the primary parasitoid and kills it. The other complementary aspect is the "top-down" view by which the hyperparasitoid at the fourth trophic level exerts selective pressure on the primary parasitoid at the third trophic level. The next interaction is with the phytophagous insect at the second trophic level that in turn is feeding on the plant at the first trophic level. This food-web community can have economic importance if the plant is an agricultural food crop or even a forest used for commercial lumbering or as a park.

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