We integrated a natural enemy survey of the broader landscape into a more traditional survey for Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), parasitoids and predatory flies on soybean using A. glycines-infested soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr., placed in cropped and noncropped plant systems to complement visual field observations. Across three sites and 5 yr, 18 parasitoids and predatory flies in total (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae [two species] and Bracondae [seven species], Diptera: Cecidomyiidae [one species], Syrphidae [seven species], Chamaemyiidae [one species]) were detected, with significant variability in recoveries detected across plant system treatments and strong contrasts in habitat affinity detected among species. Lysiphlebus testaceipes Cresson was the most frequently detected parasitoid, and no differences in abundance were detected in cropped (soybean, wheat [Triticum aestivum L.], corn [Zea mays L.], and alfalfa [Medicago sativa L.]) and noncropped (poplar [Populus euramericana (Dode) Guinier] and early successional vegetation) areas. In contrast, Binodoxys kelloggensis Pike, Starý & Brewer had strong habitat affinity for poplar and early successional vegetation. The low recoveries seasonally and across habitats of Aphelinus asychis Walker, Aphelinus sp., and Aphidius colemoni Viereck make their suitability to A. glycines on soybean highly suspect. The widespread occurrence of many of the flies reflects their broad habitat affinity and host aphid ranges. The consistent low field observations of parasitism and predation suggest that resident parasitoids and predatory flies are unlikely to contribute substantially to A. glycines suppression, at least during the conventional time period early in the pest invasion when classical biological control activities are considered. For selected species that were relatively well represented across plant systems (i.e., L. testaceipes and Aphidoletes aphidimyza Rondani), conservation biological control efforts may be fruitful. The additional information gained from expanding the natural enemy survey into the broader landscape was essential in making these distinctions relevant to conservation biological control, while adding agroecosystem-specific information valuable to classical biological control.
In the north central United States, populations of the exotic soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae), are highly variable across space, complicating effective aphid management. In this study we examined relationships of plant nutrients, landscape structure, and natural enemies with soybean aphid abundance across Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, representing the range of conditions where soybean aphid outbreaks have occurred since its introduction. We sampled soybean aphid and its natural enemies, quantified vegetation land cover and measured soybean nutrients (potassium [K] and nitrogen [N]) in 26 soybean sites in 2005 and 2006. Multiple regression models found that aphid abundance was negatively associated with leaf K content in 2005, whereas it was negatively associated with habitat diversity (Simpsons index) and positively associated with leaf N content in 2006. These variables accounted for 25 and 27% of aphid variability in 2005 and 2006, respectively, suggesting that other sources of variability are also important. In addition, K content of soybean plants decreased with increasing prevalence of corn-soybean cropland in 2005, suggesting that landscapes that have a high intensification of agriculture (as indexed by increasing corn and soybean) are more likely to have higher aphid numbers. Soybean aphid natural enemies, 26 species of predators and parasitoids, was positively related to aphid abundance; however, enemy-to-aphid abundance ratios were inversely related to aphid density, suggesting that soybean aphids are able to escape control by resident natural enemies. Overall, soybean aphid abundance was most associated with soybean leaf chemistry and landscape heterogeneity. Agronomic options that can ameliorate K deficiency and maintaining heterogeneity in the landscape may reduce aphid risk.
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