Comparing growth patterns among field populations of cereal aphids reveals factors limiting their maximum abundance

A. Honek, V. Jarosik, A.F.G. Dixon

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Abstract

Cereal stands in central Europe are commonly infested with three species of aphids that may become serious pests. With increasing abundance, the proportion of a particular species in the total aphid population may remain constant, suggesting a density-independent exponential growth, or the proportion can change, suggesting density-dependent constraints on growth. The constraints that affect particular species, and thus their relative abundance, were studied. The proportionality between maximum abundances of the cereal aphids was studied using a 10-year census of the numbers of aphids infesting 268 winter wheat plots. For two species their abundance on leaves and ears was compared. With increasing aphid density the maximum abundance of Rhopalosiphum padi (Linnaeus) remained proportional, but not that of Sitobion avenae (Fabricius), which was constrained by the smaller surface area of ears compared to leaves. There was no evidence of inter-specific competition. Maximum abundance of R. padi and Metopolophium dirhodum (Walker) on leaves did not change proportionally as the proportion of M. dirhodum decreased with increasing overall aphid density. This decrease was probably caused by the restricted distribution of M. dirhodum, which is confined to leaves, where space is limiting. No change in proportion between populations was detected when the average densities were below 0.54 aphids per leaf or ear. Non-proportional relationships between aphid populations appeared to be due to spatial constraints, acting upon the more abundant population. Detecting the limitation of population growth can help with the assessment of when density-independent exponential growth is limited by density-dependent factors. This information may help in the development of models of cereal aphid population dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-277
Number of pages9
JournalBulletin of Entomological Research
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006

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