Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 505779
Title Defensive insect symbiont leads to cascading extinctions and community collapse
Author(s) Sanders, Dirk; Kehoe, Rachel; Veen, F.J.F. van; McLean, Ailsa; Godfray, H.C.J.; Dicke, Marcel; Gols, Rieta; Frago, Enric
Source Ecology Letters 19 (2016)7. - ISSN 1461-023X - p. 789 - 799.
Department(s) Laboratory of Entomology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Keyword(s) Acyrthosiphon pisum - Aphid - Aphidius ervi - cascading extinction - defensive symbiosis - endosymbiont - experimental community ecology - Hamiltonella defensa - indirect effect - parasitoid - 016-3948

Animals often engage in mutualistic associations with microorganisms that protect them from predation, parasitism or pathogen infection. Studies of these interactions in insects have mostly focussed on the direct effects of symbiont infection on natural enemies without studying community-wide effects. Here, we explore the effect of a defensive symbiont on population dynamics and species extinctions in an experimental community composed of three aphid species and their associated specialist parasitoids. We found that introducing a bacterial symbiont with a protective (but not a non-protective) phenotype into one aphid species led to it being able to escape from its natural enemy and increase in density. This changed the relative density of the three aphid species which resulted in the extinction of the two other parasitoid species. Our results show that defensive symbionts can cause extinction cascades in experimental communities and so may play a significant role in the stability of consumer-herbivore communities in the field.

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