Speaking at the British Ecological Society's Annual Meeting at Imperial College, London, Dr Helen Roy from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will explain how this resistance to parasites is aiding the harlequin's spread in the UK and how the results are helping researchers home in on its weak spot.
Dr Roy compared the behaviour and mortality of both the harlequin and native British ladybirds after infection with the fungal disease Beauveria bassiana. She found that native species succumbed very readily to the disease, whereas most of the harlequins survived. Interestingly, however, the number of eggs the infected harlequins produced was dramatically reduced.
According to Dr Roy: “The harlequin ladybird has been a successful invader worldwide. This could partly be down to its ability to escape the effects of resident natural enemies, such as this fungal disease, which have a major impact on native ladybirds.”
“It is fascinating that even though the fungus killed only a few harlequin ladybirds, the exposed females produced far fewer eggs. We often use death as our only measure of the impact of disease on animals but this study shows that it’s important to look for subtle interactions.”
“Unfortunately, this fungus is not a viable control method for the harlequin because native ladybirds are highly susceptible to the disease, so we need to keep looking for other ways to control it. One possibility is semiochemicals – the chemical cues these ladybirds use for communication. Scientists are just beginning to understand how semiochemicals vary between different species of ladybird. With time it might be possible to manipulate semiochemicals as a control method, perhaps by using the chemicals to lure harlequin ladybirds into traps.”
The harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis, arrived in England in 2004 and was first recorded in Scotland and Northern Ireland in December 2007. It is the most invasive ladybird on Earth and is a major threat to British ladybirds because - compared to native species - the harlequin is large, aggressive and has a huge appetite. Harlequins also bite humans and infest vineyards where the defensive chemicals (reflex blood) it produces taint the wine.
In a second paper to the BES Annual Meeting, Dr Roy will be talking about the UK Harlequin Ladybird Survey and the vital part the public has played in spotting the invader. “The public has played a crucial role in tracking this alien ladybird and has enabled us to build up a detailed picture of where this species is and what it is doing. We can use this information to help answer many questions and we hope that we can learn lessons from this survey that will be useful for understanding other wildlife invasions.”
Dr Helen Roy will present her full findings at 13:40 (UK Harlequin Ladybird Survey) and 17:50 (harlequin ladybird control) on Wednesday 3 September 2008 to the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting at Imperial College, London.
Becky Allen | alfa
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy