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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: GENETICS OF HOST SPECIFICITY AND CLIMATIC ADAPTATION IN BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AGENTS INTRODUCED FOR CONTROL OF ARTHROPOD PESTS AND WEEDS

Location: Beneficial Insects Introduction Research

Title: French wasps in the New World: experimental biological control introductions reveal a demographic Allee effect

Authors
item Fauvergue, Xavier - INRA (FRANCE)
item Hopper, Keith

Submitted to: Population Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2009
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/32728
Citation: Fauvergue, X., Hopper, K.R. 2009. French wasps in the New World: experimental biological control introductions reveal a demographic Allee effect. Population Ecology. 51(3):385–397

Interpretive Summary: Many organisms introduced into a novel environment fail to establish, which is good news for pest introductions but bad news for biological control introductions to control pests. One underlying process is the Allee effect, i.e., low survival and reproduction at low population densities. Although observations on the positive relation between initial population size and establishment probability suggest that Allee effects could be a widespread in biological invasions, experimental demonstrations are scarce. Here, we used the biological control program against the Russian wheat aphid in the United States to test the effect of initial population size on establishment of a parasitoid introduced from France to control this aphid. Net reproductive rate decreased with increasing density for each generation, but for a given density, net reproductive rate was smaller in populations initiated with few individuals than in populations initiated with many individuals. Hence our results revealed a demographic Allee effect. Mate-finding was excluded as an underlying mechanism, and other component Allee effects where probably overwhelmed by negative density-dependence. Rather, the continuing effect of initial population size on population growth suggests genetic processes underlying this demographic Allee effect.

Technical Abstract: Many organisms introduced into a novel environment fail to establish. One underlying process is the Allee effect, i.e., low survival and reproduction at low population densities. Although observations on the positive relation between initial population size and establishment probability suggest that Allee effects could be a widespread in biological invasions, experimental demonstrations are scarce. Here, we used the biological control program against DIURAPHIS NOXIA (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in the United States to manipulate initial population size of the parasitoid APHELINUS ASYCHIS (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) introduced from France. For eight populations and three generations after introduction, we measured spatial distribution and spread, density, mate-finding, and population growth. Dispersal depended on density in the first generation, but smaller initial population size resulted in lower density in all generations studied. The proportion of mated females and the population sex ratio were not affected by initial population size or population density. Net reproductive rate decreased with increasing density for each generation, but for a given density, net reproductive rate was smaller in populations initiated with few individuals than in populations initiated with many individuals. Hence our results revealed a demographic Allee effect. Mate-finding was excluded as an underlying mechanism, and other component Allee effects where probably overwhelmed by negative density-dependence. Rather, the continuing effect of initial population size on population growth suggests genetic processes underlying this demographic Allee effect.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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