Eur. J. Entomol. 104 (1): 47-50, 2007 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2007.007

Density dependence of the alarm pheromone effect in pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Sternorrhyncha: Aphididae)

Grit KUNERT*, Janett TRAUTSCH, Wolfgang W. WEISSER
Institute of Ecology, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Dornburger Str. 159, 07743 Jena, Germany

The aphid alarm pheromone is known to trigger wing induction in pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum). In reaction to alarm pheromone, aphids drop off the plant or walk away. While searching for a new feeding site they repeatedly encounter other members of the aphid colony and this increased contact rate is assumed to be important for wing induction ("pseudo-crowding" hypothesis). Because the encounter rate is a function of aphid colony size, wing induction in aphids in the presence of a predator should be a function of the number of aphids on the plant. We placed two, seven or 13 adult pea aphids on bean plants, and exposed the different-sized colonies to synthetic alarm pheromone to test the density-dependence of predator-induced wing induction. The mean percentage of winged morphs among the offspring produced on the plants ranged from 10 to 80 percent and increased both with aphid number and exposure to alarm pheromone. There was no synergy between aphid number and alarm pheromone exposure indicating that both factors are additive. The implications for aphid metapopulation dynamics are discussed.

Keywords: Alarm pheromone, predator-prey interactions, population dynamics, aphid wing polyphenism, Aphididae, Acyrthosiphon pisum, density effects, wing induction

Received: May 12, 2006; Accepted: August 31, 2006; Revised: August 31, 2006; Published: January 3, 2007Show citation

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KUNERT, G., TRAUTSCH, J., & WEISSER, W.W. (2007). Density dependence of the alarm pheromone effect in pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Sternorrhyncha: Aphididae). Eur. J. Entomol.104(1), 47-50. doi: 10.14411/eje.2007.007.
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