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Ecol Evol. 2017 Sep 12;7(20):8545-8557. doi: 10.1002/ece3.3390. eCollection 2017 Oct.

Gut microbiomes of mobile predators vary with landscape context and species identity.

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Institute of Landscape Ecology University of Muenster Muenster Germany.
Department of Crop Sciences University of Goettingen Goettingen Germany.
Department of Entomology University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison WI USA.
Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Bacteriology University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison WI USA.


Landscape context affects predator-prey interactions and predator diet composition, yet little is known about landscape effects on insect gut microbiomes, a determinant of physiology and condition. Here, we combine laboratory and field experiments to examine the effects of landscape context on the gut bacterial community and body condition of predatory insects. Under laboratory conditions, we found that prey diversity increased bacterial richness in insect guts. In the field, we studied the performance and gut microbiota of six predatory insect species along a landscape complexity gradient in two local habitat types (soybean fields vs. prairie). Insects from soy fields had richer gut bacteria and lower fat content than those from prairies, suggesting better feeding conditions in prairies. Species origin mediated landscape context effects, suggesting differences in foraging of exotic and native predators on a landscape scale. Overall, our study highlights complex interactions among gut microbiota, predator identity, and landscape context.


body condition; diet; exotic species; gut bacteria; insects; insect–microbe interactions; lady beetles; natural enemies

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