A1 Journal article (refereed)
Different trophic positions among social vespid species revealed by stable isotopes (2021)

Torniainen, J., & Komonen, A. (2021). Different trophic positions among social vespid species revealed by stable isotopes. Royal Society Open Science, 8(5), Article 210472. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.210472

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Torniainen, Jyrki; Komonen, Atte

Journal or series: Royal Society Open Science

eISSN: 2054-5703

Publication year: 2021

Volume: 8

Issue number: 5

Article number: 210472

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.210472

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/75876


The social vespid wasps are common insect predators and several species behave in unison in the same biotopes. It is commonly accepted that social wasps are mainly opportunistic generalist predators without differences in prey selection and hence they compete for the same food resources. Trophic positions of six vespid wasp species and their potential prey from four sites in Finland and one in the UK were evaluated using carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N). The difference in isotope values indicated different trophic positions among species. In general, Dolichovespula spp. showed higher δ15N values than Vespula spp., which suggests that Dolichovespula forage on higher trophic levels. Dolichovespula media (Retzius, 1783) showed the highest δ15N values, whereas Vespula vulgaris showed the lowest. Dolichovespula media partly expresses apex predator-like δ15N values, whereas Vespula species tend to forage on primary consumers. The largest species Vespa crabro (Linnaeus, 1758) showed also similar δ15N values as Vespula spp. However, δ13C and δ15N values of V. vulgaris workers varied slightly during the season. This study offers novel insights about the trophic segregation in the social wasp community, suggesting specialization in diet resource utilization, especially between Dolichovespula and Vespula.

Keywords: insects; social insects; Vespidae; ecological niche; food chains; isotope analysis; carbon; nitrogen

Free keywords: carbon; Dolichovespula; insect; nitrogen; trophic position; Vespula

Contributing organizations

Related projects

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 14:47