Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (4): 643-648, 2008 | 10.14411/eje.2008.088

Experimental evidence for competitive exclusion of Myzus persicae nicotianae by Myzus persicae s.s. (Hemiptera: Aphididae) on sweet pepper, Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae)

Daniel H. TAPIA, Alejandra J. TRONCOSO, Renzo R. VARGAS, Ruby OLIVARES-DONOSO, Hermann M. NIEMEYER*
Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Casilla 653, Santiago, Chile

The importance of interspecific competition as a force promoting specialization in phytophagous insects has been long debated. Myzus persicae sensu stricto (Hemiptera: Aphididae) is one of the most polyphagous aphids. Its subspecies, M. persicae nicotianae, is found mainly on tobacco, although it can survive and reproduce on a relatively wide range of plant species in the laboratory. Since life history traits of these taxa make competitive interactions likely, we hypothesize that asymmetrical competition occurs between M. p. nicotianae and M. persicae s.s., and accounts for the exclusion of the former when they share a common resource. This hypothesis was tested in laboratory experiments, which examined the population growth of colonies of both taxa coexisting on sweet pepper. A replacement series experiment was set up with both aphid taxa on sweet pepper plants, and the rates of population growth (RPG) evaluated at 5 day intervals for 25 days. M. p. nicotianae showed a significantly lower RPG when interacting with M. persicae s.s. than when in monotypic colonies, while M. persicae s.s. RPG was unaffected by competition. The relative population growth from the second census onwards of M. persicae s.s. was consistently higher than that of M. p. nicotianae. Finally, the RPG of M. p. nicotianae was significantly reduced when the plant was infested with M. persicae s.s. The results suggest that the absence of M. p. nicotianae from sweet pepper in the field in Chile can be partly explained by competitive exclusion by M. persicae s.s.

Keywords: Hemiptera, Aphididae, competition, phytophagous insects, replacement series, green peach aphid, tobacco aphid, bottom-up effects, competitive displacement

Received: November 22, 2007; Accepted: April 18, 2008; Published: October 24, 2008

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