Post-doctotante, INRAE


Responsabilité(s) collective(s)

Dates du contrat : 1er avril 2024 – 31 mars 2026
Responsables CBGP : Denise Navia et Jean-Claude Streito
Financement : Projet AlInterAZ BIOPOLIS

The project aims to assess multitrophic interactions of phytophagous arthropods (endemic or alien) and associated natural enemies to alien plants in the Azores. It will focus on phytophagous piercing-suckers arthropods- mites (Tetranychidae, Tenuipalpidae, Eriophyidae) and hemipterous (Heteroptera, Aphidoidea, Aleyrodidae, Coccoidea, Psylloidea)- and on its associated predators or parasitoids – predatory mites of the family Phytoseiidae; predatory insects (among them Coccinellidae, Syrphidae, Nabidae, Anthocoridae, Miridae, Chrysopidae, Hemerobiidae, Aphidiidae, Encyrtidae). These groups of phytophagous were prioritized due to i) their close relationship with the host plant, including many high host-specific species; therefore its interactions with the relatively recently introduced plants can be particularly interesting under an ecological/evolutionary aspect; ii) easy logistics for collections, as they can be sampled directly from the host plants (no need of traps etc..); iii) invasiveness of many species of these families and iv) taxonomic expertise at CBGP team.

The project will be structured in two main actions:

  1. Taxonomic characterization of communities of arthropods associated with invasive plants in the Azores;
  2. Unravelling genetic and ecosystem factors influencing interactions in arthropod communities associated with alien plants in the Azores.


Action I will be developed along the first year of the project; it is going to be essentially exploratory since the arthropod communities associated with alien plants have not yet been detailed characterized. Results will be analyzed to identify the communities that will be further explored in ecological studies in Action II, along the second year.

Action I Taxonomic characterization of arthropods communities associated with alien plants and related ones in the Azores Islands. An extensive inventory of arthropod species associated with the most common invasive, alien non-invasive and on endemic plants closely related to the aliens (or presenting phenotypic similarities) will be conducted in the Azores archipelago by the young researcher, who will be accompanied by experts (BIOISLE botanists, CBGP entomologists and acarologists) during a first mission.

Action II Unravelling genetic diversity and ecosystem factors influencing interactions in arthropod communities associated with alien plants in the Azores. The detailed planning of this action will depend on Action I results. The qualitative description of the arthropod communities elaborated in Action I will be analysed for defining the i) target arthropods for the study of genetic drivers addressing new interactions; and ii) the arthropod communities (which alien plant & where) that will be targeted for evaluation of the effect of ecosystem factors.

Genetic diversity of the ‘recent’ alien plant-herbivore interactions will be investigated for some selected herbivore species that i) successfully colonized alien plants (frequent interactions, high populations), and that ii) were also found in association with endemic or cultivated plants. Our hypothesis is that a high genetic diversity promotes the establishment of new interactions allowing the colonization of new host plants, which implies in the ability of overcoming its defence mechanisms. We would like to evaluate this for the most intriguing interactions we find in the Azores. The distribution of the genetic diversity among populations found on the alien plants and on other hosts will be based on DNA sequences of molecular markers. For obtaining specimens for this study the researcher will conduct samplings in as many localities and host plants as possible; around 20 specimens of each population will be preserved in absolute alcohol in the Azores and transported for molecular analysis at CBGP.

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