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Abiotic and biotic factors affecting the distribution and abundance of soybean aphid in central North America

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Title: Abiotic and biotic factors affecting the distribution and abundance of soybean aphid in central North America
Author: Bahlai, Christine Anne
Department: Department of Environmental Biology
Program: Environmental Biology
Advisor: Hallett, Rebecca H.
Abstract: Soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura, is an important pest of North American soybean. This dissertation identifies and addresses knowledge gaps, and integrates existing knowledge regarding distribution and abundance of this species. Early summer soybean colonization patterns by A. glycines were examined relative to landscape parameters, including density of overwintering hosts (buckthorn). An information-theoretic model selection approach was used to determine which landscape parameters were most influential in the distribution of colonizing aphids. Though buckthorn abundance best explained aphid colonization and population density, a density-dependent effect was observed. When aphid populations were low, more aphids were found in the vicinity of buckthorn, when aphid populations were higher, more aphids were found farther from buckthorn. Suction trap captures of migrating populations of A. glycines from 2005-2009 from a suction trap network covering much of central North America were examined. A model selection approach was used to determine the environmental triggers of summer and fall aphid flights, and spatial analysis and modeled wind trajectories were used to examine patterns in the abundance of alates. Two alate activity peaks were observed in fall. In summer, formation of alates was a function of field infestation. A tritrophic population model was built using DYMEX, a mechanistic lifecycle based modeling software package. The model incorporated soybean, A. glycines, and three natural enemy species, interacting based on phenological, physiological and functional response data available in the literature. The model was validated using Ontario field data, and several simulations were performed and are discussed. An evaluation of proposed control strategies for efficacy and impact on natural enemies and the environment was conducted. Two novel concepts are presented: the natural enemy unit, a standardization of the impact of predator guild on prey populations by the number of prey an individual predator can eat, and the selectivity index, where the selectivity of a pesticide is a function of the change in ratio of natural enemy units to prey before and after treatment. The selectivity index was inversely correlated with the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ), a theoretical measure of impact, validating EIQ's field applicability.
Date: 2012-04
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