Influence of intraguild predation among generalist insect predators on the suppression of an herbivore population
We evaluated the influence of intraguild predation among generalist insect predators on the suppression of an herbivore, the aphid Aphis gossypii, to test the appropriateness of the simple three trophic level model proposed by Hairston, Smith, and Slobodkin (1960). We manipulated components of the predator community, including three hemipteran predators and larvae of the predatory green lacewing Chrysoperla carnea, in field enclosure/exclosure experiments to address four questions: (1) Do generalist hemipteran predators feed on C. carnea? (2) Does intraguild predation (IGP) represent a substantial source of mortality for C. carnea? (3) Do predator species act in an independent, additive manner, or do significant interactions occur? (4) Can the experimental addition of some predators result in increased densities of aphids through a trophic cascade effect? Direct observations of predation in the field demonstrated that several generalist predators consume C. carnea and other carnivorous arthropods. Severely reduced survivorship of lacewing larvae in the presence of other predators showed that IGP was a major source of mortality. Decreased survival of lacewing larvae was primarily a result of predation rather than competition. IGP created significant interactions between the influences of lacewings and either Zelus renardii or Nabis predators on aphid population suppression. Despite the fact that the trophic web was too complex to delineate distinct trophic levels within the predatory arthropod community, some trophic links were sufficiently strong to produce cascades from higher-order carnivores to the level of herbivore population dynamics: experimental addition of either Z. renardii or Nabis predators generated sufficient lacewing larval mortality in one experiment to release aphid populations from regulation by lacewing predators. We conclude that intraguild predation in this system is wide-spread and has potentially important influences on the population dynamics of a key herbivore.