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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Effects of predation pressure and prey density on short-term indirect interactions between two prey species that share a common predator

Emery, Sara E.; Mills, Nicholas J.


1. Generalist predators are important contributors to reliable conservation biological control. Indirect interactions between prey species that share a common generalist predator can influence both community dynamics and the efficacy of biological control.2. Laboratory cage experiments investigated the impact of the combined consumptive and non-consumptive effects of predation by adult Hippodamia convergens as a shared predator on the population growth and relative abundance of Acyrthosiphon pisum and Aphis gossypii as prey species. Predation pressure and prey density were varied.3. At low predation pressure the indirect interaction between aphid species was asymmetrical with a proportionally greater negative impact of predation on A. gossypii than on A. pisum. At intermediate predation pressure, the indirect interaction became symmetrical. At high predation pressure and higher levels of prey density, it was asymmetrical with greater negative impact on A. pisum, often driven to local extinction while A. gossypii populations persisted.4. A linear mixed-effects model including early population growth of both aphid species and predation pressure explained 96% and 92% of the variation in the population growth of A. pisum and A. gossypii, respectively, over an 8-day period. The overall effect of shared predation on the indirect interaction between the two aphid species is best described as apparent commensalism, where A. pisum benefited from early population growth of A. gossypii, while A. gossypii was unaffected by early population growth of A. pisum. Considering these indirect interactions is important for conservation biological control efforts to be successful.


Aphididae; apparent commensalism; biological control; Coccinellidae

Published in

Ecological Entomology
2020, Volume: 45, number: 4, pages: 821-830
Publisher: WILEY

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    • Emery, Sara

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