Population development of the predatory mite Amblydromalus limonicus is modulated by habitat dispersion, diet and density of conspecifics
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Habitat dispersion, diet and density can influence the per capita population growth of predators, and dispersed habitat can provide a spatial refuge that reduces the possibility of cannibalism among predators, thereby increasing their realized population growth rate. We tested the influence of variable habitat dispersion (dispersed patches, general patches and aggregated patches), two diets (Typha orientalis pollen and Ephestia kuehniella eggs) and initial predator density—one or two Amblydromalus limonicus (Garman and McGregor) (Acari: Phytoseiidae) founder females—on the population growth of A. limonicus in 7 days. Dispersed patches resulted in a higher total number of A. limonicus than the other two types of habitat dispersion from days 3–7 when fed on either of the diets, and started with either one or two A. limonicus females. Compared with E. kuehniella eggs, T. orientalis pollen resulted in more A. limonicus regardless of one or two founder females. Compared with two founder females, beginning with one founder female on pollen produced significantly more predatory mite females in dispersed and aggregated patches. A four-way ANOVA showed that the main effects indicated that habitat, diet, density, and time significantly influenced the number of immature and female A. limonicus. Significant interactions between habitat dispersion and diet were detected on immature and female A. limonicus. Our findings suggest that increasing the dispersion of artificial shelters on crop leaves may stimulate the control efficiency of predators in greenhouses. Furthermore, T. orientalis pollen provides a high nutritional quality supplemental diet that could enhance the ability of A. limonicus to control pests.
KeywordsHabitat dispersion Diet Density Amblydromalus limonicus Population growth
We are grateful to Chris Winks (Landcare Research, Auckland) for technical support and Mrs Anne Austin (Landcare Research, Palmerston North) for review and comments. We also thank Miss Guangyun Li (The University of Auckland, Tamaki Campus) for help in maintaining the A. limonicus population. J.-F Liu would like to express his gratitude to The University of Auckland for financial support. Z.-Q. Zhang was supported mainly by Core Funding for Crown Research Institutes from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Science and Innovation Group. In addition, this paper was also supported in part by a subcontract on A. limonicus rearing from Plant and Food Research (Christchurch).
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