Herbivore-induced plant volatiles and tritrophic interactions across spatial scales

Aartsma, Y.S.Y.; Bianchi, F.J.J.A.; Werf, W. van der; Poelman, E.H.; Dicke, M.


Herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) are an important cue used in herbivore location by carnivorous arthropods such as parasitoids. The effects of plant volatiles on parasitoids have been well characterised at small spatial scales, but little research has been done on their effects at larger spatial scales. The spatial matrix of volatiles (‘volatile mosaic’) within which parasitoids locate their hosts is dynamic and heterogeneous. It is shaped by the spatial pattern of HIPV-emitting plants, the concentration, chemical composition and breakdown of the emitted HIPV blends, and by environmental factors such as wind, turbulence and vegetation that affect transport and mixing of odour plumes. The volatile mosaic may be exploited differentially by different parasitoid species, in relation to species traits such as sensory ability to perceive volatiles and the physical ability to move towards the source. Understanding how HIPVs influence parasitoids at larger spatial scales is crucial for our understanding of tritrophic interactions and sustainable pest management in agriculture. However, there is a large gap in our knowledge on how volatiles influence the process of host location by parasitoids at the landscape scale. Future studies should bridge the gap between the chemical and behavioural ecology of tritrophic interactions and landscape ecology.