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Effect of temperature on the survival of Aconophora compressa Walker (Hemiptera: Membracidae): implications for weed biocontrol

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In weed biocontrol, similarity of abiotic factors between the native and introduced range of a biocontrol agent is critical to its establishment and effectiveness. This is particularly the case for weeds that have a wide geographical distribution in the native range. For such weeds, the choice of a specialist insect that has narrow tolerance limits to important abiotic factors can diminish its ability to be an effective biocontrol agent. The membracid Aconophora compressa was introduced in Australia from Mexico for biocontrol of Lantana camara, a plant with a wide climatic tolerance. In this study we investigated the effect of constant and alternating temperatures on A. compressa survival. Longevity of adults and nymphs declined with increasing temperatures, and at 39°C individuals survived for less than a day. At lower temperatures, nymphs survived longer than adults. Survival at alternating temperatures was longer than at constant temperatures, but the general trend of lower survival at higher temperatures remained. Spatially and temporally, the climatic tolerance of A. compressa appears to be a subset of that of lantana, thereby limiting its potential impact.
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Keywords: Aconophora compressa; Lantana camara; biological control; thermal tolerances; weed

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Alan Fletcher Research Station, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Sherwood, Qld 4075, Australia.

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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