Intraguild predation is independent of landscape context and does not affect the temporal dynamics of aphids in cereal fields


Abundance and diversity of natural enemies increases with higher landscape complexity. However, more species can also increase negative interactions such as intraguild predation (IGP), which could be detrimental to pest control. Direct observations of these trophic interactions are still lacking. In the present study, we employed DNA-based gut content analyses of coccinellid beetles to assess IGP (direct and coincidental) and aphid consumption. Species-specific and group-specific primer pairs were used to unveil the interactions of the most abundant coccinellid species, three cereal aphids and their associated parasitoids. In order to determine whether the landscape complexity promotes these interactions, we used replicated wheat fields in two contrasting landscape contexts over the season in central Chile. With higher abundance of coccinellids, we observed greater aphid consumption in complex contexts. The consumption of parasitized aphids was mostly detected early in complex contexts, suggesting a detrimental effect on the parasitoid population. Following molecular analysis, we can state that the aphids are important feeding resources for the coccinellid assemblage and are actively foraging on this important pest. Finally, this study demonstrates that direct IGP is a common interaction in this system, independently of the landscape context during the complete season. Nevertheless, the native Eriopis chilensis was found to be the most frequently consumed intraguild prey. In contrast with expected predictions, we found little evidence that the landscape context increased negative interactions, such as IGP and IGP-C and in turn that these decrease the control of Sitobion avenae.

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The authors would like to thank Cinthya Villegas, Nuri Cabrera, Marcos Dominguez, Rebecca Mayer, Zhengpei Ye and Lucie Raymond for their help in field collecting samples and laboratory procedures.


This study was funded by Fondecyt Grant 1140632, CONICYT and Universidad de Talca doctoral grant, the KWA scholarship and University of Innsbruck financial support and the FP7 IRSES project, ‘APHIDWEB: Structure, strength hand invasibility of aphid food webs,’ Grant/Award Number: 611810.

Author information

SO and BL designed the experiment, carried out the field sampling and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. SO, KS and VB conducted the laboratory experiments and data analyses. KS and MT contributed to the design of the molecular experiment, the interpretation of the data and manuscript preparation with SO and BL. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Correspondence to Sebastián Ortiz-Martínez or Blas Lavandero.

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Ortiz-Martínez, S., Staudacher, K., Baumgartner, V. et al. Intraguild predation is independent of landscape context and does not affect the temporal dynamics of aphids in cereal fields. J Pest Sci 93, 235–249 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10340-019-01142-4

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  • Diagnostic multiplex PCR
  • Aphid consumption
  • Landscape complexity
  • Gut content DNA
  • Temporal dynamics