Intraspecific heritable variation in life-history traits can alter the outcome of interspecific competition among insect herbivores
Hazell, S. P., McClintock, I. A. D. and Fellowes, M. D. E. (2006) Intraspecific heritable variation in life-history traits can alter the outcome of interspecific competition among insect herbivores. Basic and Applied Ecology, 7 (3). pp. 215-223. ISSN 1439-1791
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2005.06.003
Competition is one of the most important biotic factors determining the structure of ecological communities. In this study, we show that there is variation in competitive ability between two clones of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, both of which out-compete a clone of the vetch aphid, Megoura viciae, in the laboratory. We tested whether this variation in competitive ability would alter the outcome of interspecific competition in the field. White one pea aphid clone followed the pattern set in the laboratory, out-competing the Megoura viciae clone, another showed the reverse effect with Megoura viciae dominating. These differences appear to be the result of variation in early population growth rate between the pea aphid clones, rather than predation, although predation did lead to the eventual extinction of colonies. We also questioned whether intra- and interspecific differences in predator escape behaviour could affect the outcome of competition in the field. All three clones responded similarly to the presence of foraging hoverfly larvae (Episyrphus balteatus), but the Megoura viciae clone dropped from the plant significantly less often in response to the presence of a foraging two-spot ladybird (Adalia bipunctata). This work provides evidence that intraspecific variation in competitive ability can alter the outcome of interspecific competitive interactions in nature and suggests that species-specific behavioural. traits may have the potential to modify the outcome of these interactions. (c) 2005 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.