Oecologia (2004) 140, 577-585

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Jay A. Rosenheim, David D. Limburg, Ramana G. Colfer, Valerie Fournier, Cynthia L. Hsu, Teresa E. Leonardo and Erik H. Nelson (2004)
Herbivore population suppression by an intermediate predator, Phytoseiulus macropilis, is insensitive to the presence of an intraguild predator: an advantage of small body size?
Oecologia 140 (4), 577-585
Abstract: Recent work in terrestrial communities has highlighted a new question: what makes a predator act as a consumer of herbivores versus acting as a consumer of other predators? Here we test three predictions from a model (Rosenheim and Corbett in Ecology 84:2538-2548) that links predator foraging behavior with predator ecology: (1) widely foraging predators have the potential to suppress populations of sedentary herbivores; (2) sit and wait predators are unlikely to suppress populations of sedentary herbivores; and (3) sit and wait predators may act as top predators, suppressing populations of widely foraging intermediate predators and thereby releasing sedentary herbivore populations from control. Manipulative field experiments conducted with the arthropod community found on papaya, Carica papaya, provided support for the first two predictions: (1) the widely foraging predatory mite Phytoseiulus macropilis strongly suppressed populations of a sedentary herbivore, the spider mite Tetranychus cinnabarinus, whereas (2) the tangle-web spider Nesticodes rufipes, a classic sit and wait predator, failed to suppress Tetranychus population growth rates. However, our experiments provided no support for the third hypothesis; the sit and wait predator Nesticodes did not disrupt the suppression of Tetranychus populations by Phytoseiulus. This contrasts with an earlier study that demonstrated that Nesticodes can disrupt control of Tetranychus generated by another widely foraging predator, Stethorus siphonulus. Behavioral observations suggested a simple explanation for the differing sensitivity of Phytoseiulus and Stethorus to Nesticodes predation. Phytoseiulus is a much smaller predator than Stethorus, has a lower rate of prey consumption, and thus has a much smaller requirement to forage across the leaf surface for prey, thereby reducing its probability of encountering Nesticodes webs. Small body size may be a general means by which widely foraging intermediate predators can ameliorate their risk of predation by sit and wait top predators. This effect may partially or fully offset the general expectation from size-structured trophic interactions that smaller predators are subject to more intense intraguild predation.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Jay A. Rosenheim, Valérie Fournier, Cynthia L. Hsu

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
environment/habitat manipulation


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Tetranychus cinnabarinus Papaya (Carica papaya) U.S.A. (Hawaii)
Phytoseiulus macropilis (predator) Tetranychus cinnabarinus Papaya (Carica papaya) U.S.A. (Hawaii)
Nesticodes rufipes (predator) Tetranychus cinnabarinus Papaya (Carica papaya) U.S.A. (Hawaii)
Stethorus siphonulus (predator) Tetranychus cinnabarinus Papaya (Carica papaya) U.S.A. (Hawaii)