Population dynamics of the bird cherry-oat aphid, Rhopalosiphum padi (L.), during the autumn and winter: a modelling approach

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1 A simulation model was developed to investigate the inter-relationship of factors influencing the population dynamics of the bird cherry-oat aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi (L.)) in barley crops during the autumn and winter.

2 The model incorporated algorithms describing alate immigration, development and survival of adults and nymphs, fecundity and morph determination in newly born nymphs.

3 The model was validated against pest outbreaks in barley fields in south-east England.

4 It simulated accurately the size of the outbreaks with predictions of peak aphid populations within 20% of the observed in all but one case. Similarly, all but one of the year-sowing date combination predictions of timing of peak abundance fell within 14 days of the observed.

5 A sensitivity analysis of the model highlighted the relative importance of various population processes in determining simulated aphid population dynamics; decreasing mortality rates of apterous nymphs by as little as 5% over the autumn and winter increased peak densities by as much as 60-fold, whereas increasing daily temperatures by only 1 °C more than doubled peak aphid abundance.

6 The model identified our understanding of the mechanisms of aphid mortality as a limiting factor in the accurate prediction of R. padi outbreaks in the field.

Keywords: Bird cherry-oat aphid; Rhopalosiphum padi; low temperatures; mortality; population dynamics; simulation model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Biology, The University of Southampton, Southampton, SO9 5NH, U.K.

Publication date: November 1, 2000

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