Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp 1441–1455 | Cite as

Alien dominance of the parasitoid wasp community along an elevation gradient on Hawai’i Island

  • Robert W. Peck
  • Paul C. Banko
  • Marla Schwarzfeld
  • Melody Euaparadorn
  • Kevin W. Brinck
Original Paper


Through intentional and accidental introduction, more than 100 species of alien Ichneumonidae and Braconidae (Hymenoptera) have become established in the Hawaiian Islands. The extent to which these parasitoid wasps have penetrated native wet forests was investigated over a 1,765 m elevation gradient on windward Hawai’i Island. For >1 year, malaise traps were used to continuously monitor parasitoid abundance and species richness in nine sites over three elevations. A total of 18,996 individuals from 16 subfamilies were collected. Overall, the fauna was dominated by aliens, with 44 of 58 species foreign to the Hawaiian Islands. Ichneumonidae was dominant over Braconidae in terms of both diversity and abundance, comprising 67.5% of individuals and 69.0% of species collected. Parasitoid abundance and species richness varied significantly with elevation: abundance was greater at mid and high elevations compared to low elevation while species richness increased with increasing elevation, with all three elevations differing significantly from each other. Nine species purposely introduced to control pest insects were found, but one braconid, Meteorus laphygmae, comprised 98.0% of this assemblage, or 28.3% of the entire fauna. Endemic species, primarily within the genera Spolas and Enicospilus, were collected almost exclusively at mid- and high-elevation sites, where they made up 22.1% and 36.0% of the total catch, respectively. Overall, 75.9% of species and 96.0% of individuals are inferred to parasitize Lepidoptera larvae and pupae. Our results support previous data indicating that alien parasitoids have deeply penetrated native forest habitats and may have substantial impacts on Hawaiian ecosystems.


Alien species Biological control Braconidae Elevation gradient Ichneumonidae Hawai’i Parasitism 



This work was made possible by support from the National Science Foundation (NSF Grant # DEB00-83944—“Biocomplexity of Introduced Avian Disease in Hawai’i: Threats to Biocomplexity of Native Forest Ecosystems” to the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa) and by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Terrestrial, Freshwater, and Marine Ecosystems Program and Invasive Species Program. The Biocomplexity Project was a collaboration of institutions, including U.S. Geological Survey—Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center, U.S. Geological Survey—National Wildlife Health Center, University of Hawai’i at Hilo, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Princeton University, and Smithsonian Institution. Kamehameha Schools, Hawai’i Division of Forestry and Wildlife, and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park generously provided access to study sites. We thank C. Niwa for allowing us to use her malaise traps, R. Messing for helping identify Aphidiinae, B. Kumashiro for identifying some Ichneumonidae, and K. Voelke, C. J. Van Bers and D. Woods for their help in the field and in the lab. Comments from two anonymous reviewers improved an earlier draft of the manuscript. Any use of trade, product, or firm names in this publication is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Peck
    • 1
  • Paul C. Banko
    • 2
  • Marla Schwarzfeld
    • 1
  • Melody Euaparadorn
    • 1
  • Kevin W. Brinck
    • 1
  1. 1.Hawai’i Cooperative Studies UnitU.S. Geological Survey, University of Hawai’i at Hilo/PACRCHawai’i National ParkUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Island Ecosystems Research CenterU.S. Geological SurveyHawai’i National ParkUSA

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