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Application of predator-associated cues to control small brown planthoppers: non-consumptive effects of predators suppress the pest population

Abstract

Predator non-consumptive effects (NCEs) have been well studied in many ecosystems and NCEs can alter the behavior, morphology and life history of prey, producing strong trait-mediated indirect effects (TMIEs) on host plants. However, studies involving the application of NCEs to control pests in the field, and instances of combined laboratory bioassay and field practice are rare. Here, we examine the development, reproduction and behavior of small brown planthoppers, Laodelphax striatellus (Fallén), when exposed to predator cues from caged predators (Paederus fuscipes Curtis), or predator body extracts (in solvents with different polarities) in the laboratory. Field foliage sprays of these extracts were also used to test their effects on the L. striatellus population and rice plant biomass. Nymph development and egg hatch rate in L. striatellus were not influenced, but adult longevity was shorter, and fecundity and weight gain were lower, when nymphs were exposed to the predator cues. Adults exposed to predator cues also gained less weight and laid fewer eggs. The poorer developmental and reproductive performances might result from lower activity levels observed in threatened L. striatellus. The field foliage sprays of predator cues decreased L. striatellus abundance and increased rice plant biomass, suggesting their possible application for pest control. Predator cues extracted using chloroform increased stronger NCEs and TMIEs, indicating their non-polar characteristics. Our studies advance the understanding of how NCEs shape the life history and behavior of L. striatellus and improve rice growth, laying new foundations for future research on novel pest control materials and methods.

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Data availability

All data available from the figshare. Dataset (https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.14178341.v1).

Code availability

All the data analysis were conducted in R version 4.0.3.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the landowner, Kama Suzuhara, for allowing us to conduct the fieldwork in his farmland. We thank the master student, Xining Xu, of the Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyushu University, for his help in counting the number of SBPH in the field. We thank Professor Robert A. Spicer, of the School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK, to kindly helping us edit the English in a revised version of this manuscript.

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There is no funding received in this study.

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All authors collaboratively conceived and designed the research; J. W. conducted the laboratory and filed work; J. W. analyzed the data and wrote the manuscript; T. U. and J. W. revised the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jian Wen.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or vertebrates performed by any of the authors.

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Handling Editor: Eric Riddick

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Wen, J., Ueno, T. Application of predator-associated cues to control small brown planthoppers: non-consumptive effects of predators suppress the pest population. BioControl 66, 813–824 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-021-10115-5

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Keywords

  • Rice pest
  • Laodelphax striatellus
  • Generalist predator
  • Paederus fuscipes
  • Predation risks
  • Cascading effects