Gallwasp Biology

We work on the evolution, population genetics and community biology of oak cynipid gallwasps. For a full list of the group's papers in this area, please see the publications section. Paper titles and other words in blue below are linked directly to images or downloadable pdf's.

Oak galls are the result of active growth of plant tissues, under the control of gallwasp genes, and are dramatic examples of what Richard Dawkins has called 'extended phenotypes'. Factors (as yet unidentified) secreted by the gallwasp larva drive the differentiation of oak tissues into gall structures (reviewed in Stone et al 2002) that are often very different to anything found on an ungalled oak! Oak cynipid galls also support rich and ecologically closed communities of organisms (Stone et al. 2002), dominated by wasps. These wasps can be divided into inquilines, which feed on plant tissue (mainly cynipids in the tribe Synergini), and parasitoids belonging to several families in the Chalcidoidea. In addition to wasps, gall tissues and their occupants are attacked by a range of moths (particularly tortricids in the genus Pammene) and beetles (such as the Curculio weevils below).