- Testing for reproductive interference in the population dynamics of two congeneric species of herbivorous mites
- Volume | Issue number
- 113 | 6
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
When phylogenetically close, two competing species may reproductively interfere, and thereby affect their population dynamics. We tested for reproductive interference (RI) between two congeneric haplo-diploid spider mites, Tetranychus evansi and Tetranychus urticae, by investigating their interspecific mating and their population dynamics when they competed on the same plants. They are both pests of tomato, but differ in the host plant defences that they suppress or induce. To reduce the effect of plant-mediated interaction, we used a mutant tomato plant lacking jasmonate-mediated anti-herbivore defences in the competition experiment. In addition, to manipulate the effect of RI, we introduced founder females already mated with conspecific males in mild RI treatments or founder, virgin females in strong RI treatments (in either case together with heterospecific and conspecific males). As females show first-male sperm precedence, RI should occur especially in the founder generation under strong RI treatments. We found that T. urticae outcompeted T. evansi in mild, but not in strong RI treatments. Thus, T. evansi interfered reproductively with T. urticae. This result was supported by crossing experiments showing frequent interspecific copulations, strong postmating reproductive isolation and a preference of T. evansi males to mate with T. urticae (instead of conspecific) females, whereas T. urticae males preferred conspecific females. We conclude that interspecific mating comes at a cost due to asymmetric mate preferences of males. Because RI by T. evansi can improve its competitiveness to T. urticae, we propose that RI partly explains why T. evansi became invasive in Europe where T. urticae is endemic.
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