Molecular biogeography and host relations of a parasitoid fly

David A. Gray, Henry D. Kunerth, Marlene Zuk, William H. Cade, Susan L. Balenger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Successful geographic range expansion by parasites and parasitoids may also require host range expansion. Thus, the evolutionary advantages of host specialization may trade off against the ability to exploit new host species encountered in new geographic regions. Here, we use molecular techniques and confirmed host records to examine biogeography, population divergence, and host flexibility of the parasitoid fly, Ormia ochracea (Bigot). Gravid females of this fly find their cricket hosts acoustically by eavesdropping on male cricket calling songs; these songs vary greatly among the known host species of crickets. Using both nuclear and mitochondrial genetic markers, we (a) describe the geographical distribution and subdivision of genetic variation in O. ochracea from across the continental United States, the Mexican states of Sonora and Oaxaca, and populations introduced to Hawaii; (b) demonstrate that the distribution of genetic variation among fly populations is consistent with a single widespread species with regional host specialization, rather than locally differentiated cryptic species; (c) identify the more-probable source populations for the flies introduced to the Hawaiian islands; (d) examine genetic variation and substructure within Hawaii; (e) show that among-population geographic, genetic, and host song distances are all correlated; and (f) discuss specialization and lability in host-finding behavior in light of the diversity of cricket songs serving as host cues in different geographically separate populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11476-11493
Number of pages18
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Gryllus
  • Ormia
  • Teleogryllus
  • host specialization
  • parasitoid
  • range expansion
  • song distance matrix

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