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Preference and Prey Switching in a Generalist Predator Attacking Local and Invasive Alien Pests

Abstract : Invasive pest species may strongly affect biotic interactions in agro-ecosystems. The ability of generalist predators to prey on new invasive pests may result in drastic changes in the population dynamics of local pest species owing to predator-mediated indirect interactions among prey. On a short time scale, the nature and strength of such indirect interactions depend largely on preferences between prey and on predator behavior patterns. Under laboratory conditions we evaluated the prey preference of the generalist predator Macrolophus pygmaeus Rambur (Heteroptera: Miridae) when it encounters simultaneously the local tomato pest Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) and the invasive alien pest Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). We tested various ratios of local vs. alien prey numbers, measuring switching by the predator from one prey to the other, and assessing what conditions (e.g. prey species abundance and prey development stage) may favor such prey switching. The total predation activity of M. pygmaeus was affected by the presence of T. absoluta in the prey complex with an opposite effect when comparing adult and juvenile predators. The predator showed similar preference toward T. absoluta eggs and B. tabaci nymphs, but T. absoluta larvae were clearly less attacked. However, prey preference strongly depended on prey relative abundance with a disproportionately high predation on the most abundant prey and disproportionately low predation on the rarest prey. Together with the findings of a recent companion study (Bompard et al. 2013, Population Ecology), the insight obtained on M. pygmaeus prey switching may be useful for Integrated Pest Management in tomato crops, notably for optimal simultaneous management of B. tabaci and T. absoluta, which very frequently co-occur on tomato.
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Coline Jaworski, Anaïs Bompard, Laure Genies, Edwige Amiens-Desneux, Nicolas Desneux. Preference and Prey Switching in a Generalist Predator Attacking Local and Invasive Alien Pests. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2013, 8 (12), pp.e82231. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0082231⟩. ⟨hal-01669160⟩

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