Eur. J. Entomol. 111 (2): 257-265, 2014 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2014.025

Functional response and predatory interactions in conspecific and heterospecific combinations of two congeneric species (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)

Bhupendra KUMAR, Geetanjali MISHRA, OMKAR*
Centre of Excellence in Biocontrol of Insect Pests, Department of Zoology, University of Lucknow, Lucknow 226 007, India; e-mail: omkaar55@hotmail.com

In the present study, the predatory interactions between two locally abundant large lady beetles, Coccinella septempunctata L. (C7) and Coccinella transversalis F. (Ct) provided with either an extremely scarce, scarce, sub-optimal, optimal or abundant supply of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) were investigated. For this, three 2-predator combinations (conspecific C7 + C7 and Ct + Ct, and heterospecific C7 + Ct) of 10-day-old unmated adult females were used. The relationships between the proportion of prey consumed by the predators in the conspecific and heterospecific combinations when provided with five different abundances of prey were similar in consisting of a decelerating (type II) functional response when provided with an extremely scarce to optimal supply of prey, followed by an accelerating (type III) functional response when provided with an optimal to abundant supply of prey. It is likely that the modified type II functional response recorded in the present study was a consequence of using a small experimental arena (Petri dish). The multiplicative risk model analysis revealed that the predators interacted antagonistically except in the C7 + C7 combination provided with an extremely scarce supply of prey where the predators had an additive effect. The predators in the heterospecific C7 + Ct combination consumed fewer aphids when provided with an extremely scarce, scarce, sub-optimal or optimal supply of prey prey than the predators in conspecific C7 + C7 combination but a similarly high number when provided with an abundant supply of prey. In addition, the efficiency of converting prey biomass into their own biomass was higher in the heterospecific C7 + Ct than in the conspecific C7 + C7 or Ct + Ct combinations at all prey densities. Although the conversion efficiency of the predators in the conspecific and heterospecific combinations provided with an extremely scarce supply of prey was the highest recorded, their growth rate was the lowest. In contrast, both the conversion efficiency and growth rate of the predators in the three combinations were highest when provided with an abundant supply of prey. It may, therefore, be concluded that when the predators in the combinations occupy similar ecological niches, they will probably consume less prey than they require when prey is both scarce and abundant because the predators interact antagonistically.

Keywords: Coleoptera, Coccinellidae, Coccinella septempunctata, C. transversalis, lady beetles, predatory guilds, conversion efficiency, growth rate

Received: September 12, 2013; Accepted: November 21, 2013; Prepublished online: March 6, 2014; Published: May 5, 2014

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