Generation time ratio, rather than voracity, determines population dynamics of insect – natural enemy systems, contrary to classical Lotka-Volterra models
Keywords:aphids, ladybirds, Lotka-Volterra, metapopulation dynamics, predator-prey systems
Population dynamics of a predator-prey system is usually simulated by the classical Lotka-Volterra models, which were successfully applied to the population dynamics of snowshoe hare and lynx and many other predator-prey systems. Attempts were made to apply them also to insect predator-prey systems, but in terms of biological control, they did not reveal the features of the predators that control the abundance of their prey. The most conspicuous example of failure of Lotka-Volterra models applied to insect predator-prey systems are ladybird-aphid systems, in which these models usually fail to fit empirical data. Because of their practical importance and because they are very well studied, we have chosen aphid-ladybird systems as a model. We summarize the results published on various aspects of the population dynamics of aphid-ladybird systems and present them in the context of empirical data. Using new data, we more closely specify the existing metapopulation model of aphid-ladybird interactions.
Based on the arguments presented here, we conclude that the ladybird-aphid case can be generalized to insect (and maybe even other) predator-prey systems, where the ratio of the generation times of the predator to that of the prey (GTR) is large. In such systems, the main selection pressure on predators is choosing the best strategy to maximize survival of their offspring, rather than on maximization of the amount of prey eaten. Thus voracity, which is the main determinant of population dynamics in Lotka-Volterra models, loses its role and is replaced by optimization of the choice of oviposition sites in systems with large GTRs.
Copyright (c) 2020 Pavel Kindlmann, Zuzana Štipkova, Anthony F. G. Dixon
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