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Bull Entomol Res. 2004 Oct;94(5):419-31.

The spatial dynamics of crop and ground active predatory arthropods and their aphid prey in winter wheat.

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The Game Conservancy Trust, Fordingbridge, Hants, SP6 1EF, UK.


The distribution of aphid predators within arable fields has been previously examined using pitfall traps. With this technique predominantly larger invertebrate species are captured, especially Carabidae, but the technique provides no estimate of density unless mark-recapture is used. However, many other numerically important aphid predators occur in arable fields and relatively little is known about their distribution patterns nor whether they exhibit a density-dependent response to patches of cereal aphids. Identification of the most effective predators can allow management practices to be developed accordingly. In this study, the distribution of cereal aphids and their predators was examined by suction sampling within a field of winter wheat in Devon, UK, along with visual estimates of weed patchiness. Sampling was conducted on four occasions in 1999 across a grid of 128 sample locations. The distribution of 11 predatory taxa from the Carabidae, Staphylinidae and Linyphiidae was examined. Additionally, the total number of aphid predators and a predation index were used in these analyses. Carabid adults and larvae, along with staphylinid larvae showed the strongest aggregation into patches and the most temporal stability in their distribution. Other taxa had more ephemeral distributions as did the cereal aphids. The distribution of carabid larvae was disassociated from the distribution of cereal aphids for the first two sampling occasions indicating biocontrol was occurring. Other predatory groups showed both association and disassociation. Carabid larvae, Bathyphantes and total numbers of Linyphiidae showed a strong correlation with weed cover for two of the sample dates. Cereal aphids were disassociated from weed cover on three sampling occasions.

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