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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Interactions of ants with native and invasive lady beetles and the role of chemical cues in intraguild interference

Bucher, Roman; Japke, Laura M.; Unlu, Ayse Gul; Menzel, Florian;

Abstract

The predator-predator naivete hypothesis suggests that non-native predators benefit from being unknown to native predators, resulting in reduced intraguild interference with native predators. This novelty advantage should depend on the ability of native predators to recognize cues of non-native predators. Here, we compared ant aggression and lady beetle reaction in four native and the invasive lady beetle species Harmonia axyridis. In addition, we tested whether lady beetle cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) are involved in species recognition, which might explain naivete if the invasive species has a specific CHC profile. To this end, we conducted behavioral assays confronting two native ant species with both living lady beetles and lady beetle elytra bearing or lacking CHCs of different lady beetle species. Finally, we characterized CHC profiles of the lady beetles using GC-MS. In general, the aggression of Lasius niger was more frequent than that of Myrmica rubra and L. niger aggression was more frequent towards most native lady beetle species compared to H. axyridis. The removal of CHCs from lady beetle elytra reduced aggression of both ant species. If CHCs of respective lady beetle species were added on cue-free elytra, natural strength of L. niger aggression could be restored. CHC analyses revealed a distinct cue composition for each lady beetle species. Our experiments demonstrate that the presence of chemical cues on the surface of lady beetles contribute to the strength of ant aggression against lady beetles. Reduced aggression of L. niger towards H. axyridis and reduced avoidance behavior in H. axyridis compared to the equally voracious C. septempunctata might improve the invasive lady beetle's access to ant-tended aphids.

Keywords

Biological invasion; Species interaction; Predator-predator naivete; Ant aggression; Cuticular hydrocarbons; Harmonia axyridis; Coccinellidae; Formicidae

Published in

Chemoecology

2021, volume: 31, number: 5, pages: 323-334
Publisher: SPRINGER BASEL AG

Authors' information

Bucher, Roman
Philipps University Marburg
Japke, Laura M.
Philipps University Marburg
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Philipps University Marburg
Menzel, Florian
Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

UKÄ Subject classification

Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00049-021-00354-4

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/112564