Selection of aphid prey by a generalist predator : do prey chemical defences matter?

Nesbit, Chris M. and Wilby, Andrew and Roberts, Mike R. and Menendez Martinez, Maria Rosa (2015) Selection of aphid prey by a generalist predator : do prey chemical defences matter? Ecological Entomology, 40 (6). pp. 767-775. ISSN 0307-6946

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1. For predators, prey selection should maximise nutrition and minimise fitness costs. In the present study, it was investigated whether a generalist predator [Chrysoperla carnea (Stephens) lacewing larvae] rejected harmful, chemically-defended prey [Brevicoryne brassicae (Linnaeus) aphids] when non-defended prey [Myzus persicae (Sulzer) aphids] were available. 2. It was tested: (i) whether consuming different prey species affects predator mortality; (ii) whether naïve predators reject chemically-defended prey while foraging when non-defended prey are available; (iii) whether the relative abundance of each prey affects the predator's prey choice; and (iv) whether predators learn to avoid consuming chemically-defended prey after exposure to both prey species. 3. Consumption of B. brassicae yielded greater C. carnea mortality than M. persicae consumption, but naïve C. carnea did not reject B. brassicae in favour of M. persicae during foraging. When presented at unequal abundances, naïve predators generally consumed each aphid species according to their initial relative abundance, although, predation of non-defended prey was less than expected when defended prey were initially more abundant, indicating a high consumption of B. brassicae impeded M. persicae consumption. With experience, C. carnea maintained predation of both aphid species but consumed more M. persicae than B. brassicae, indicating a change in behaviour. 4. Although prey choice by C. carnea may change with experience of available prey, prey chemical defences do not appear to influence prey choice by naïve predators. This inability to avoid harmful prey could facilitate wider, indirect interactions. Myzus persicae may benefit where high consumption of B. brassicae hinders predators in the short term, and in the long term, increases predator mortality.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Ecological Entomology
Additional Information:
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: NESBIT, C. M., WILBY, A., ROBERTS, M. R. and MENÉNDEZ, R. (2015), Selection of aphid prey by a generalist predator: do prey chemical defences matter?. Ecological Entomology, 40: 767–775. doi: 10.1111/een.12253 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? apparent commensalismassociational resistancebrassicacaepredator behaviourtrait-mediated indirect interactioninsect scienceecology ??
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Deposited On:
14 Jun 2016 13:52
Last Modified:
31 Dec 2023 00:36