Intra-specific variation affects the structure of the natural enemy assemblage attacking pea aphid colonies
Hazell, S.P. and Fellowes, M.D.E. (2009) Intra-specific variation affects the structure of the natural enemy assemblage attacking pea aphid colonies. Ecological Entomology, 34 (1). pp. 34-42. ISSN 0307-6946
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2008.01051.x
1. Intra-specific variation in plant defence traits has been shown to profoundly affect herbivore community structure. Here we describe two experiments designed to test whether similar effects occur at higher trophic levels, by studying pea aphid–natural enemy interactions in a disused pasture in southern England. 2. In the first experiment, the numbers and identity of natural enemies attacking different monoclonal pea aphid colonies were recorded in a series of assays throughout the period of pea aphid activity. 3. In the summer assay, there was a significant effect of clone on the numbers of aphidophagous hoverfly larvae and the total number of non-hoverfly natural enemies recruited. Clone also appeared to influence the attack rate suffered by the primary predator in the system, the hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus, by Diplazon laetatorius, an ichneumonid parasitoid. Colonies were generally driven to extinction by hoverfly attack, resulting in the recording of low numbers of parasitoids and entomopathogens, suggesting intense intra-guild predation. 4. To further examine the influence of clonal variation on the recruitment of natural enemies, a second experiment was performed to monitor the temporal dynamics of community development. Colonies were destructively sampled every other day and the numbers of natural enemies attacking aphid colonies were recorded. These data demonstrated that clonal variation influenced the timing, abundance, and identity of natural enemies attacking aphid colonies. 5. Taken together, these data suggest that clonal variation may have a significant influence on the patterns of interactions between aphids and their natural enemies, and that such effects are likely to affect our understanding of the ecology and biological control of these insect herbivores.