Title

Investigating the diet of the omnivorous mirid Dicyphus hesperus using stable isotopes

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Publication Title

Bulletin of Entomological Research

Volume

99

Issue

4

First Page

347

Last Page

358

DOI

10.1017/S0007485308006378

Abstract

AbstractOmnivory involves numerous feeding relationships and a complex web of interactions. When using omnivores in biocontrol, these interactions need to be understood to maximize feeding on the target species and minimize non-target interactions. Dicyphus hesperus is used along with Encarsia formosa for biocontrol of whiteflies in greenhouse tomato crops. Dicyphus hesperus is a generalist omnivore which feeds on all components of the system. To quantify these interactions, stable isotope analysis was used to identify trophic position with nitrogen isotopes (δ15N) and plant sources with carbon isotopes (δ13C). Feeding trials were used to establish baseline isotopic data for D. hesperus and their diet, including Verbascum thapsus, an alternative plant food. Cage trials were used to monitor population abundances and the isotopic signature of D. hesperus. In feeding trials, D. hesperus were enriched relative to their food, suggesting an elevated trophic position. However, large amounts of isotopic variation were found within all diet components, with only V. thapsus exhibiting a distinct signature. In cage trials, the average δ15N and δ13C of the omnivore declined over time, coinciding with declines in total available prey, though it may be confounded by changes in temperature. The range of δ13C, but not the range of δ15N, also declined over time. This suggests a change in the plant source within the diet, but also some unquantified variability within the population. We suggest that diet variability exists within D. hesperus populations, declining as prey become less abundant.

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