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Farm-scale assessment of movement patterns and colonization dynamics of the grain aphid in arable crops and hedgerows

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1 Integrated management of crop pests requires the identification of the appropriate spatial scale at which colonization processes occurs. We assessed, by coupling demographic and genetic methods, the relative contribution of local and transient migrants of the grain aphid Sitobion avenae to wheat field colonization in spring.

2 We examined, during two consecutive years, the daily colonization of wheat by aphid migrants and compared this with daily aphid flight monitored by a local 12.2-m suction trap. The genetic profiles of aphids landing on crops were compared with those of both flying aphids caught by the suction trap and local populations from arable crops and hedgerows.

3 In the first year, we observed: (i) a strong correlation between aphids colonizing the crop and those moving within the crop and a close genetic similarity between aphids from these samples and (ii) a high level of genetic differentiation between these aphids and populations from local cereals and field margins. In the second year, the number of migrants recorded on the wheat was three-fold higher than in the previous year, and less correlated with that recorded by the suction trap. This was associated with a lack of genetic differentiation between all samples.

4 This variation in the colonization processes resulted mainly in an abrupt increase in abundance of genotypes from local over-wintering sites in 2004. This suggests that, despite the long range dispersal potential of the grain aphid, outbreak risks could be mainly determined at a local scale, encouraging the design of relatively small management units.
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Keywords: Crop colonization dynamics; genotyping; migrant origin; pest insect ecology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-11-01

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