Tritrophic effects of organic and conventional fertilisers on a cereal-aphid-parasitoid system



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 135, Issue 1, 119, Article first published online: 10 March 2010



The impact of parasitoids on pests varies between conventional and low-intensity agricultural systems. Although the impacts on parasitoid natural enemies of many practices within these agricultural systems are well understood, the role of fertilisers has been less well studied. The effects of organic-based and conventional fertilisers on Hordeum vulgare L. (Poaceae), the aphid Metopolophium dirhodum Walker (Hemiptera: Aphididae), and its parasitoid Aphidius ervi Haliday (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) was investigated using cage release experiments and measures of aphid and parasitoid fitness were taken. Barley tiller number and aphid weight were increased by fertilisers, particularly under conventional treatments. Adult parasitoid size correlated positively with that of the host, M. dirhodum, whereas percentage parasitism was not affected by fertiliser treatment or host size. The results suggest that the increased parasitoid impact observed in some low-intensity or organic systems is not a direct result of fertiliser treatment. Our results indicate that fertiliser treatments that improve cereal-aphid fitness will improve parasitoid fitness as measured by parasitoid size but may not influence percentage parasitism.