Effect of plants on the searching efficiency of a generalist predator: the importance of predator-prey spatial association

Authors

  • Moshe Coll,

    1. Insect Biocontrol Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
    2. Present address: Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel
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  • Lesley A. Smith,

    1. Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
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  • Richard L. Ridgway

    1. Insect Biocontrol Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705, USA
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Abstract

In most studies of tritrophic interactions, the effect of plants on predators is confounded with changes in prey and predator behaviors after an encounter event. Here, we estimate how the effect of plants on prey distribution (in the absence of the predator) and on predator foraging behavior (in the absence of prey) may influence predation rate of Orius insidiosus (Say) (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae) in 11 plant by prey species combinations. The within-leaf distributions of O. insidiosus and its prey overlapped most on bean plants. The predator's foraging behavior (e.g., walking speed, turning rate) also differed among plant species. Simulations, using the prey distribution data and predator's foraging patterns on leaf surfaces of each plant species, show that, overall, the searching efficiency of O. insidiosus was higher on leaves of bean and corn than of tomato. However, the predator's searching efficiency was not consistent within plant species. Thus, the combined effect of plants directly on the predator and indirectly through the prey influenced the predator's searching efficiency.

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