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Insect pests pose a significant problem for agriculture. Fortunately, many pests are controlled by naturally occurring predatory insects, a process called biological control. The earth’s climate is getting warmer with climate change, and the ability of predator species to control pests could be affected by the rising temperatures. We examined the relationship between temperature and activity of wolf spiders, Pardosa spp., which are important predators of aphid pests in barley crops. We did this by setting up 60 pitfall traps at 5 different fields and sampling weekly for 7 weeks. Wolf spider activity, i.e., captures/trap, was related to temperature during two hour sampling periods. From these data, the thermal niche (thermal optimum and breadth) of wolf spiders will be determined and compared to the thermal niche of another common aphid predator, ground beetles, Bembidion spp. Our results will enable us to test the hypothesis that predator biodiversity is beneficial for natural biocontrol because species have complementary (rather than redundant) thermal niches.
Bailey, Alexandra M., "Relationship of Wolf Spider (Pardosa spp.) Activity Levels to Temperature in Central Sweden" (2017). Biology Summer Fellows. 50.
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