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Predation, dispersal and weather in an orchard mite system Johnson, Dan Lloyd


The history, management and ecology of the European red mite, Panonvchus ulmi Koch, and two important phytoseiid predators, Typhiodromus caudiglans Schuster and Typhiodromus occidentalis Nesbitt were reviewed. The roles and interactions of dispersal, predation and weather in the orchard mite system were examined. Field experiments in an apple orchard with well-established phytoseiid and European red mite (ERM) populations showed that Typhiodromus rarely move among or between trees and the ground cover, either by air or via the trunk. They were incapable, within a single season, of repopulating trees from which phytoseiids had been removed by early-season carbaryl application, even though these trees supported high prey populations and were interspersed among unsprayed trees well-populated with Typhiodromus and the ERM. Large numbers of sticky traps captured very few aerially dispersing phytoseiids. In contrast, their ERM prey actively dispersed within trees and throughout the orchard. Mite densities were uncorrelated with leaf chlorophyll content; within-tree dispersal was not directly determined by leaf condition. Adult females were greatly over-represented in aerially-dispersing ERM emigrants in comparison with populations on the apple trees. No density threshold effect on ERM dispersal was discernible on a per-tree basis. Aerial dispersal was extensive and appeared to depend on the weather more mites disperse on warm and calm days than on cool or windy days. ERM dispersal via the tree trunk was minimal and the presence of weeds resulted in only a slight increase in ERM density on the trees. The phytoseiids affected the ERM by reducing population densities, by reducing the proportion of immatures, and by decreasing the degree of prey aggregation (as represented by frequency distribution of leaf counts). The consequences of low predator dispersal and high prey dispersal in a weather-dependent system are discussed. Results of computer simulation of the development, predation, and dispersal are presented. Dispersal (immigration and emigration) allow the phytoseiid populations in the single-tree model to persist and control the ERM. In simulations of the interaction of Typhlodromus with the ERM, the interaction of dispersal and temperature-related processes is strong and non-linear, and may operate through several processes.

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