Geotaxis and leaf-surface preferences mitigate negative effects of a predatory mite on an herbivorous mite
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Reproductive success and population growth of an herbivorous mite are limited by activities of phytoseiid predators. However, occurrences on upper versus lower leaf surfaces are sometimes mismatched between these prey and predators. The mismatch potentially mitigates predation risk for the prey species. We assessed factors that affect mite distributions on leaf surfaces, testing whether the presence of the phytoseiid mite Phytoseius nipponicus alters the leaf-surface distribution and reproductive success of the herbivorous false spider mite Brevipalpus obovatus. The host plant was Viburnum erosum var. punctatum (Adoxaceae). Leaves were set in natural (TRUE) and reversed (upside down; INVERTED) orientations using experimental devices. Both surfaces were accessible to mites. We detected lower and abaxial leaf-surface preferences in P. nipponicus. In contrast, upper and adaxial surfaces were preferred by B. obovatus. Thus, prey and predatory mites accumulated on different sides of leaves. Presence of the predator also indirectly decreased egg production in B. obovatus. Brevipalpus obovatus females actively avoided leaf surfaces with elevated predator numbers; these females shifted their distributions and changed oviposition sites to leaf surfaces with fewer predators. In consequence, B. obovatus eggs on the upper sides of leaves were less frequently preyed upon than were those on lower sides. We suggest that upper leaf-surface exploitation in this particular herbivorous mite species mitigates predation risk from phytoseiid mites, which prefer lower leaf surfaces.
KeywordsTop-down regulation Predator avoidance Habitat architecture Gravity
We thank Prof. H. Amano, Dr. S. Yano and Mr. Y. Sakai, Kyoto University for valuable suggestions. This study was partially supported by Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows No. 23.2696 to SM from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
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