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How do the consumption and development rates of the conifer specialist Aphidecta obliterata respond to temperature, and is it better adapted to limited prey than a generalist?


S.R. Leather, Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7PY, UK.


This study aimed to address the effect of temperature on the consumption and development rates of Aphidecta obliterata and to compare the responses of Ap. obliterata (specialist) with that of Adalia bipunctata (generalist) to prey limitation. Temperature had a significant and positive effect on the time to egg hatch of Ap. obliterata. The duration of the larval instars was not affected by prey species at 15°C but was significantly shorter, 12.1 days at 20°C compared with 21.1 days at 15°C. The proportion of time spent in each instar, however, was not affected by temperature or prey species, but the duration of the pupal stage was significantly affected by temperature. The average daily consumption of prey aphids increased with instar and was significantly influenced by temperature. There was a significant difference in the length of the pupal stage between coccinellid species but not that of the larval stage. The duration of the larval period increased under conditions of prey shortage. The pupal period of Ap. obliterata was significantly affected by the food regime but not that of Ad. bipunctata. There was a significant interaction between species and food supply on the length of the pupal stage and the larval stage and the final fresh weight achieved by the newly emerged adults. Male adults weighed significantly less than the females in all regimes. Larvae of Ap. obliterata and Ad. bipunctata did not consume any of the alternative prey (Collembola or Psocoptera) provided. There was no significant difference in the consumption of prey between the two coccinellid species. The results suggest that both of these coccinellids are well adapted to low-density-specific prey. There were no obvious differences between the two, which would tend to favour either species in an environment of limited prey.