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Inter-strain competition and dispersal in aphids: evidence from a greenhouse study

Inter-strain competition and dispersal in aphids: evidence from a greenhouse study

Ecological Entomology 24(4): 450-464

1. Crops are often colonised by aphids having different life-history traits, and the aphids and their offspring compete for the shared resource. The intraspecific competition and dispersal characteristics of two strains (A and B) of the cotton aphid Aphis gossypii on cucumber were examined in a greenhouse study. Strain A normally feeds on cucumber, whereas strain B originated from melon but develops on cucumber. Both strains reproduce exclusively via parthenogenesis and can be discriminated using molecular markers. 2. The strains were released at the same time on different plants in a greenhouse. Total density and their dispersion within and between plants were recorded through time, and the frequency of each strain was assessed using DNA fingerprinting. The Lotka-Volterra competition model was used to test for inter-strain competition and to estimate its intensity. 3. Strain A had the highest rate of increase and carrying capacity, and became the most frequent strain, nearly displacing strain B. Strain B was the most common only on the plants it infested first. The competition was unbalanced as strain B was affected strongly by strain A. but strain A was only affected minimally by strain B. This asymmetrical relationship for strain B was not due only to competition for the shared resource. 4. Such competition may in part explain the reduction of genetic polymorphism observed by others in the field where colonising strains coming from different hosts compete and some are eliminated. Polymorphism in A. gossypii populations in nature is thought to be maintained by heterogeneous patches of hosts differentially favourable for different clones.

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Accession: 003480855

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DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2311.1999.00223.x

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