Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ecologists search for invasive ladybird’s weak spot

03.09.2008
Ecologists have discovered that – as well as being larger, hungrier and more aggressive than most British native ladybirds - the invasive alien harlequin ladybird is also more resistant to fungal disease and a parasitic wasp, two common natural enemies of native ladybirds.

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
Further information:
http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>