In natural populations, organisms experience simultaneously biotic (e.g., competitors and parasites) and abiotic (e.g., temperature and humidity) stresses. Thus, species must have the capacity to respond to combinations of stressors. How does interaction between biotic and abiotic stress affect organismal performance? To address this question, I studied stress resistance of adult Drosophila melanogaster that survived parasitic attack (as larvae) by the parasitoid Asobara tabida. To determine the impact of genotype on stress resistance, I measured survival under desiccation and starvation of flies within isofemale (genetic) lines. Survivors of parasitism had slightly reduced survivorship compared to unparasitized relatives when both were unstressed, and this difference was exacerbated by desiccation and starvation. These results indicate multiple stressors can compound each other's individual negative effects on fitness. Moreover, isofemale lines differed in their sensitivity to environmental stress and to parasitism. Consequently, genotypic differences in sensitivity to stress may reflect differences in investment priorities between traits that promote survival over other life-history characters.
Corresponding Editor: S. Pitnick