Nutritional benefits of intraguild predation and cannibalism among generalist and specialist phytoseiid mites

P Schausberger, BA Croft

1. Intraguild predation and cannibalism are common among predaceous phytoseiid mites (Acari, Phytoseiidae) but the nutritional benefits gained by these processes are poorly understood.

2. The study reported here addressed the questions of whether cannibalism and intraguild predation provide different nutritional benefits and whether the ability to utilise cannibalism and intraguild predation is linked to the diet specialisation of phytoseiid mites. Specialists tested were Phytoseiulus macropilis, Galendromus occidentalis, and Neoseiulus longispinosus; generalists tested were Amblyseius andersoni, Neoseiulus cucumeris, and Neoseiulus fallacis.

3. All generalists and the specialist P. macropilis were able to complete juvenile development with both con- and hetero-specific prey. Juvenile development of generalists was shorter with heterospecific prey than with conspecific prey, whereas development of the specialist P. macropilis did not differ between prey types. Only a few N. longispinosus and G. occidentalis, both specialists, reached adulthood by cannibalism but none reached adulthood by intraguild predation.

4. All generalists were able to sustain oviposition by intraguild predation. Neoseiulus cucumeris and A. andersoni laid more eggs with heterospecific prey than with conspecific prey, whereas N. fallacis had similar oviposition rates with both prey types. No specialist sustained oviposition by intraguild predation or cannibalism.

5. Overall, generalists gained equal or more nutritional benefits by intraguild predation than by cannibalism and were able to utilise phytoseiid intraguild prey as an alternative food source. Specialists gained equal or more nutritional benefits from cannibalism than from intraguild predation. For specialists, con- and hetero-specific phytoseiids may be considered only a supplemental food.

External organisation(s)
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, Oregon State University
Ecological Entomology
No. of pages
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106047 Animal ecology, 106054 Zoology
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