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See detailTuned protection of aphids by ants against a predatory hoverfly
Detrain, Claire; Fichaux; Verheggen, François ULiege

in Ecological Entomology (2017)

1. Aphid-tending ants that feed on honeydew have evolved strategies against aphidophagous insects and tune their aggressive behaviour according to the level of danger for their trophobionts. Here we ... [more ▼]

1. Aphid-tending ants that feed on honeydew have evolved strategies against aphidophagous insects and tune their aggressive behaviour according to the level of danger for their trophobionts. Here we investigate how Lasius niger Linnaeus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) ants react to different instars of Episyrphus balteatus De Geer (Diptera: Syrphidae) hoverflies which vary in their voracity and defensive abilities. 2. During pairwise encounters, early syrphid instars (eggs, L1, and L2 larvae) elicited lower aggression scores compared to third larval instars (L3), which was intensively bitten by ants. L3 tried to escape from ants by releasing a sticky and toxic secretion over biting ants that died or underwent severe morbidity. 3. In a standardised system including the host plant, aphid, tending ant, and hoverfly, the ability of ants to protect an Aphis fabae Scopoli (Hemiptera: Aphididae) colony was evaluated. Early E. balteatus instars placed onto the plant elicited no mobilisation of ants, which often removed the hoverfly successfully. Eggs and early instars appeared as the weak links for integrated pest management by hoverfly auxiliaries. 4. In contrast, L3 induced the number of ant patrollers to increase at a local scale without any further recruitment from inside the ant nest. L3 syrphids were quite efficient at gluing ants with defensive secretions and at resisting to removal attempts by ants. 5. While supporting the assumption that ants tune their defensive response to the aphidophagous predator, the present results also showed a lack of efficient protection of their trophobionts from the most voracious late syrphid instar. [less ▲]

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See detailDoes Aconitum septentrionale chemically protect floral rewards to the advantage of specialist bumblebees?
Gosselin, M.; Michez, D.; Vanderplanck, Maryse ULiege et al

in Ecological Entomology (2013), 38(4), 400-407

Chemical protection of plants against herbivory is a well-studied phenomenon. However, chemical protection of floral rewards remains relatively unexplored. As with herbivore-plant interactions, toxic ... [more ▼]

Chemical protection of plants against herbivory is a well-studied phenomenon. However, chemical protection of floral rewards remains relatively unexplored. As with herbivore-plant interactions, toxic rewards may impact generalist and specialist foragers in different ways. This study focuses on the toxic plant Aconitum septentrionale (Ranunculaceae). This plant is visited by specialist and generalist bumblebees. Alkaloid concentrations and profiles for the different parts of A. septentrionale were analysed to detect a potential chemical toxicity of floral rewards. In the same way, sequestration of alkaloids was tested on a pollen specialist species Bombus consobrinus and a generalist species Bombus wurflenii. A liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry method was developed to discriminate 16 major compounds in the plant. These alkaloids were present in all parts of the plant, but in different ratios. The concentration was high in the roots but also in pollen, providing evidence of chemical protection of this reward. By contrast, nectar had the lowest concentration of alkaloids. Only six alkaloids were detected in B. consobrinus tissues, at trace levels. For the generalist bumblebee B. wurflenii, no traces of alkaloids were detected. Lappaconitine was the major alkaloid compound in pollen, nectar and B. consobrinus tissues. Low accumulation of alkaloids in B. consobrinus tissues could be an ecological advantage for this specialist species in terms of pathogen and predatory avoidance. © 2013 The Royal Entomological Society. [less ▲]

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See detailFeeding ecology and phylogenetic structure of a complex neotropical termite assemblage, revealed by nitrogen stable isotope ratios
Bourguignon, Thomas; Sobotnik, Jan; Lepoint, Gilles ULiege et al

in Ecological Entomology (2011), 36(2), 261-269

2. Nitrogen stable isotopes (hereafter delta 15N) were used to place termites from French Guiana rainforests along a wood-soil decomposition gradient, to test (i) whether feeding group assignation based ... [more ▼]

2. Nitrogen stable isotopes (hereafter delta 15N) were used to place termites from French Guiana rainforests along a wood-soil decomposition gradient, to test (i) whether feeding group assignation based on morphological characters was accurate and actually represented diet specialisation thresholds, and (ii) to what extent the dietary specialization of species is explained by phylogeny (phylogenetic autocorrelation). 3. delta 15N values vary over a range of 13 parts per thousand, suggesting that diet diversification contributes to the high species diversity in French Guiana. delta 15N values span a similar interval in all Termitidae subfamilies. Ranges of different subfamilies broadly overlap, although each of them diversified preferentially on one side of the wood-soil decomposition gradient. Congeneric species share similar feeding habits, whereas distant species tend to feed on distinct substrates. 4. Feeding groups did not completely match stable isotope data: there was no discontinuity between Groups III and IV, and no correlation between anatomical criteria used to distinguish these groups and delta 15N values. Nor was there any consistent difference in delta 15N values between wood feeders of the families Rhinotermitidae (Group I) and Termitidae (Group II). We also suggest that species feeding outside the wood-soil gradient should be distinguished for their peculiar feeding requirements. [less ▲]

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See detailA comparative study of cannibalism and predation in seven species of flour beetle
Alabi, Taofic ULiege; MICHAUD, J. P.; ARNAUD, Ludovic et al

in Ecological Entomology (2008), 33(6), 716-726

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