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Survival of a specialist natural enemy experiencing resource competition with an omnivorous predator when sharing the invasive prey Tuta absoluta

Chailleux A., Droui A., Bearez P., Desneux N.. 2017. Ecology and Evolution, 7 (20) : p. 8329-8337.

DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3396

Can specialist natural enemies persist in ecosystems when competing with omnivorous natural enemies for their shared prey? The consequences of omnivory have been studied theoretically, but empirical studies are still lacking. Omnivory is nevertheless common in nature and omnivorous predators coexist with specialists in many ecosystems, even when they are intraguild predators. This type of association is also common in agroecosystems in which biological control strategies are used. Our study provides an example of the outcome of such an association in the context of biological control of the invasive pest Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera) in a tomato agroecosystem. The two natural enemies involved, that is, a specialist (Stenomesius japonicus (Hymenoptera) parasitoid) and an omnivore (Macrolophus pygmaeus (Hemiptera) predator), were able to coexist for 3 months in our experimental cages in the absence of metacommunity mechanisms (i.e., emigration and recolonization), contrary to theoretical expectations. However, they negatively affected each other's population dynamics. We found that spatial resource segregation was not a mechanism that promoted their coexistence. Regarding pest control, the specialist and omnivorous natural enemies were found to exhibit complementary functional traits, leading to the best control when together. Mechanisms that may have promoted the coexistence of the two species as well as consequences with regard to the inoculative biological control program are discussed.

Mots-clés : gelechiidae; lutte biologique; interactions biologiques; parasitoïde; agent de lutte biologique; macrolophus; eulophidae; solanum lycopersicum; omnivore; régime alimentaire; agroécosystème; compétition interspécifique; compétition biologique; tuta absoluta; france; macrolophus pygmaeus; stenomesius japonica

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