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Cereal Aphid Colony Turnover and Persistence in Winter Wheat

posted on 2014-09-30, 03:40 authored by Linton Winder, Colin J. Alexander, Chris Woolley, Joe N. Perry, John M. Holland

An understanding of spatial and temporal processes in agricultural ecosystems provides a basis for rational decision-making with regards to the management and husbandry of crops, supporting the implementation of integrated farming strategies. In this study we investigated the spatial and temporal distribution of aphid pests (Sitobion avenae and Metopolophium dirhodum) within winter wheat fields. Using an intensive sampling programme we investigated distributions at both the small (single shoot) and large (field) scales. Within two fields, a grid with 82 locations was established (area 120 m by 168 m). At each location, 25 shoots were individually marked and aphid counts by observation conducted on 21 and 22 occasions as the crop matured, resulting in 43,050 and 45,100 counts being conducted in the two fields respectively. We quantified field scale spatial distributions, demonstrating that spatial pattern generally emerged, with temporal stability being both species- and field- dependent. We then measured turnover of colonies at the small (individual shoot) and large (field) scales by comparing consecutive pairs of sampling occasions. Four turnover categories were defined: Empty (no aphids recorded on either occasion); Colonised (aphids recorded on the second occasion but not the first); Extinction (aphids recorded on the first occasion but not the second); Stable (aphids recorded on both occasions). At the field scale, population stability soon established, but, at the small scale there was a consistently high proportion of unoccupied shoots with considerable colonisation and extinction and low stability. The redistribution of aphids within the crop at the local scale is a vulnerability which could be used to disrupt population development – by mediating exposure to ground-active natural enemies and by incurring a metabolic cost caused by the physiological demands to re-establish on a nearby host plant.


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