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Effects of Aphid Density and Plant Taxa on Predatory Ladybeetle Abundance at Field and Landscape Scales.

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Pan, Hongsheng 
Liu, Bing 
Jaworski, Coline C 
Yang, Long 
Liu, Yongqiang 


In agroecosystems, predatory ladybeetles play an important role in restraining aphid population growth and suppressing aphid populations. They can adapt to various habitats and make use of various aphid species associated with multiple host plants during their life cycle. Agricultural landscapes in China are composed of a mosaic of small fields with a diverse range of crops, and how ladybeetles make use of host plant diversity in such landscapes has rarely been documented. In this study, we examined the relationship between aphid densities and ladybeetle densities in two different settings: (i) on the majority of plant species (including crops, trees, and weeds) at a local field scale in 2013 and 2014, and (ii) in paired cotton and maize crop fields at a regional landscape scale in 2013. Overall, we found that aphid abundance determined predatory ladybeetle abundance at both the local field and landscape scales, and there was a positive correlation between aphid densities and ladybeetle densities. However, plant taxa had no significant influence on the predatory ladybeetle abundance at the local field scale. In addition, the effect of aphids on ladybeetles abundance was influenced by the crop type and growing season at the regional landscape scale. There was a significant positive correlation between aphids and ladybeetles populations on cotton only in July and August, whereas the correlation was significant for maize throughout the whole growing season. We also conducted an analysis of the stable carbon isotope ratios of the adult ladybeetles caught in cotton and maize fields (C3 and C4 crops, respectively) in a regional landscape-scale survey in 2013. The δ13Cvalue indicated that most prey aphids for ladybeetles originated from crops where aphids are abundant (cotton in June and July; both maize and cotton in August).These findings improved our understanding of the migration and dispersal of ladybeetles among different habitats and plant species and provided insight into the promotion of the regional conservation and pest control of natural enemies in northern China.



conservation biological control, habitat use, host plant shift, landscape heterogeneity, plant diversity, predator-prey interaction

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