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Keywords:

  • community ecology;
  • displacement;
  • invasion ecology

Summary

1. Negative interspecific interactions, such as resource competition or reproductive interference, can lead to the displacement of species (species exclusion).

2. Here, we investigated the effect of life history, mating behaviour and adaptation to insecticides on species exclusion between cryptic whitefly species that make up the Bemisia tabaci species complex. We conducted population cage experiments independently in China, Australia, the United States and Israel to observe patterns of species exclusion between an invasive species commonly referred to as the B biotype and three other species commonly known as biotypes ZHJ1, AN and Q.

3. Although experimental conditions and species varied between regions, we were able to predict the observed patterns of exclusion in each region using a stochastic model that incorporated data on development time, mating behaviour and resistance to insecticides.

4. Between-species variation in mating behaviour was a more significant factor affecting species exclusion than variation in development time. Specifically, the ability of B to copulate more effectively than other species resulted in a faster rate of population increase for B, as well as a reduced rate of population growth for other species, leading to species exclusion. The greater ability of B to evolve resistance to insecticides also contributed to exclusion of other species in some cases.

5. Results indicate that an integrative analysis of the consequences of variation in life-history traits, mating behaviours and adaption to insecticides could provide a robust framework for predicting species exclusion following whitefly invasions.