US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Biol Invasions (2008) 10:1441–1455. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-008-9218-1


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.