Intra- and interspecific competition for resource exploitation is widespread in animal kingdom, and usually causes a reduction in survival and/or reproductive success to the interacting individuals. These processes thus strongly affect population dynamics and species co-existence, hence biodiversity maintenance. Because individual performances vary with temperature, often in different ways according to species, this abiotic factor modulates resource quality and the pay-off of individuals’ competitive behavioural strategies. As a result, in a heterogeneous habitat showing a thermal mosaic, individuals of a same species should prefer the same thermal micro-sites, increasing the intensity of intraspecific competition. In contrast, species in competition should co-exist when their optimal temperatures differ. The aim of this PhD project is, therefore, to test the effect of temperature on the distribution and modulation of behavioural strategies of two sympatric parasitoid species, Eupelmus vuilleti and Dinarmus basalis, when exploiting and defending the same hosts (resource), larvae of the cowpea seed weevil Callosobruchus maculatus, in situation of intra- and interspecific competition. This work will offer the opportunity to anticipate the effect of climate warming on the co-existence of both parasitoid species and their efficacies as biological control agents to control C. maculatus, a pest in food stock in Africa.
We seek a candidate with:
– in-depth knowledge in behavioural ecology
– knowledge in thermal biology would also be appreciated
– good communicating skills (oral and writing) both in French and English
– good ability to work both in autonomy and in a team
– skills in statistics with R