Costamagna, A. C., D. A. Landis, and C. D. DiFonzo. 2007. Suppression of soybean aphid by generalist predators results in a trophic cascade in soybeans. Ecological Applications 17:441-451.
Top-down regulation of herbivores in terrestrial ecosystems is pervasive and can lead to trophic cascades that release plants from herbivory. Due to their relatively simplified food webs, agroecosystems may be particularly prone to trophic cascades, a rationale that underlies biological control. However, theoretical and empirical studies show that, within multiple enemy assemblages, intraguild predation (IGP) may lead to a disruption of top-down control by predators. We conducted a factorial field study to test the separate and combined effects of predators and parasitoids in a system with asymmetric IGP. Specifically we combined ambient levels of generalist predators (mainly Coccinellidae) of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura, with controlled releases of the native parasitoid Lysiphlebus testaceipes (Cresson) and measured their impact on aphid population growth and soybean biomass and yield. We found that generalist predators provided strong, season-long aphid suppression, which resulted in a trophic cascade that doubled soybean biomass and yield. However, contrary to our expectations, L. testaceipes provided minor aphid suppression and only when predators were excluded, which resulted in nonadditive effects when both groups were combined. We found direct and indirect evidence of IGP, but because percentage parasitism did not differ between predator exclusion and ambient predator treatments, we concluded that IGP did not disrupt parasitism during this study. Our results support theoretical predictions that intraguild predators which also provide strong herbivore suppression do not disrupt top-down control of herbivores.
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