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Bottom-up and top-down control of pear psylla (Cacopsylla pyricola): Fertilization, plant quality, and the efficacy of the predator Anthocoris nemoralis

, : Bottom-up and top-down control of pear psylla (Cacopsylla pyricola): Fertilization, plant quality, and the efficacy of the predator Anthocoris nemoralis. Biological control: theory and application in pest management 43(3): 257-264

Herbivore population dynamics are governed both by bottom-up (plant-mediated) and by top-down (natural enemy-mediated) processes, with the potential for interaction between them. Pear psylla (Cacapsyllapyricola Foerster) is a phytophagous pest in pear orchards. Pear psylla is commonly attacked by several different natural enemies, but it may escape control, especially if fertilizer additions and new shoot production are not carefully managed. We tested the hypothesis that plant quality mediates the efficacy of an important, natural enemy of pear psylla, Anthocoris nemoralis. One year-old caged Bartlett pear trees were fertilized at either low (5 mM N) or high (20 mM N) levels of nitrogen, then either psylla or psylla and Anthocoris were added to each tree. We measured plant growth, psylla population size, and Anthocoris establishment to determine effects of fertilizer and predation on psylla population dynamics. Trees receiving more N were taller, had longer total branches, a greater total number of leaves, and higher leaf nitrogen content. Psylla populations were also larger in the high N treatment. Anthocoris establishment and reproduction was positively related to the density of psylla at the time predators were added. And although psylla densities were, over-all, lower on trees where Anthocoris was present, the level to which Anthocoris suppressed psylla was not significantly affected by fertilizer level. These results indicate that the. efficacy of this predator is not strongly mediated by plant quality, at least at the local (i.e. tree) scale. Minimizing fertilizer additions to the minimum level required for proper fruit set is likely to be an important feature of successful pear psylla biocontrol programs.


DOI: 10.1016/j.biocontrol.2007.09.001

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