Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (3): 369-380, 2008 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2008.047

Multitrophic interactions among plants, aphids, alternate prey and shared natural enemies - a review

Edward W. EVANS
Department of Biology, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5305 USA; e-mail: ewevans@biology.usu.edu

Given the generalist tendencies of most predatory arthropods, it is widely thought that their impact on a particular prey species in a given habitat (e.g., an insect pest in a crop) will depend frequently on the local availability of other prey (which for omnivorous predators, can include plant resources, such as fruit and pollen). Thus, from a slightly different perspective, aphids, other herbivorous insects, and plants often may interact indirectly by sharing natural enemies. Such interactions may be either negative or positive, as in the concepts of apparent competition and apparent mutualism, and may therefore have variable impact on the herbivores' host plants as well. I examine the different mechanisms for such indirect effects among herbivores as explored in the experimental literature. An impressive collective effort by numerous researchers recently has expanded considerably our empirical base of support for a variety of hypothesized mechanisms; aphids stand out as the most commonly studied subjects in research on these mechanisms. I therefore focus especially on the recent literature of cases involving aphids interacting indirectly with other prey for generalist predators. My remarks are organized by considering how the availability of alternate prey may alter functional and numerical (aggregative and reproductive) responses of predators to focal prey density. Although the distinctions among these different classes of predator responses and the associated indirect effects are often blurred and scale-dependent, this classification remains useful for organizing the diverse ways in which aphids have been found to participate in indirect interactions among prey as mediated by predators. Collectively, the results of the numerous studies reviewed here suggest that many such indirect interactions likely occur frequently in natural settings, with consequences ultimately for host plant performance.

Keywords: Alternative prey, apparent competition, food webs, functional response, indirect interactions, mutualism, numerical response, parasitism, predation

Received: September 24, 2007; Accepted: January 3, 2008; Published: July 31, 2008

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