Ovarian dynamics and host use

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

269 Scopus citations


Oviposition behavior in herbivorous and frugivorous insects and parasitoids is dynamic at the level of the individual, responding to variation in host quality and availability. Patterns of variation in egg load in response to host presence and quality suggest that ovarian development also responds to variation in the host environment. Ovarian dynamics are mediated by feedback from oviposition, by host feeding, and by sensory input from the host. The last of these mechanisms, host sensory cuing, is known to occur in three major orders and provides strong evidence that ovarian dynamics are adaptive by design. Conditions favoring host effects on ovarian development include trade-offs between egg production and either survival or dispersal, uncertainty in the host environment, and a correlation in host conditions between the time that oogenesis is initiated and the time that eggs are laid. Some host defenses block ovarian development, suggesting that ovarian dynamics in host-specific insects should be viewed from a coevolutionary perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-448
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual review of entomology
StatePublished - 2000


  • Egg load
  • Oogenesis
  • Ovarian development
  • Oviposition behavior
  • Parasitoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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