Möller, D.M., Ferrante, M., Möller, G.M., Rozenberg, T. & Segoli, M. (2020) The impact of terrestrial oil pollution on parasitoid wasps associated with Vachellia (Fabales: Fabaceae) trees in a desert ecosystem, Israel.Environmental Entomology, 49(6), 1355-1362. DOI:10.1093/ee/nvaa123 (IF2019 1,586; Q2 Entomology)
Oil is a major pollutant of the environment, and terrestrial oil spills frequently occur in desert areas. Although arthropods account for a large share of animal diversity, the effect of oil pollution on this group is rarely documented. We evaluated the effects of oil pollution on parasitoid wasps associated with Vachellia (formerly Acacia) tortilis (Forssk.) and Vachellia raddiana (Savi) trees in a hyper-arid desert that was affected by two major oil spills (in 1975 and 2014). We sampled the parasitoid populations between 2016 and 2018 in three sampling sites and compared their abundance, diversity, and community composition between oil-polluted and unpolluted trees. Parasitoid abundance in oil-polluted trees was lower in one of the sites affected by the recent oil spill, but not in the site affected by the 1975 oil spill. Oil-polluted trees supported lower parasitoid diversity than unpolluted trees in some sampling site/year combinations; however, such negative effects were inconsistent and pollution explained a small proportion of the variation in parasitoid community composition. Our results indicate that oil pollution may negatively affect parasitoid abundances and diversity, although the magnitude of the effect depends on the tree species, sampling site, and the time since the oil spill.