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Artificial selection for dispersal results in lines with different exploitation strategies

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Dispersal is a main determinant of the dynamics and persistence of predator-prey metapopulations. When defining dispersal as a predator exploitation strategy, theory predicts the existence of a continuum of strategies: from some dispersal throughout the predator-prey interaction
(the Milker strategy) to dispersal only after the prey had been exterminated (the Killer strategy). These dispersal strategies relate to differences in prey exploitation at the population level, with more dispersal leading to longer predator-prey interaction times and higher cumulative numbers of dispersing predators. In the predatory mite
Phytoseiulus persimilis, empirical studies have shown genetic variation for prey exploitation as well as for timing of aerial dispersal in the presence of prey. Here, we test whether artificial selecting for lines that differ in timing of dispersal also results in these lines differing in prey
exploitation. Six rounds of selection for early or late dispersal resulted in predator lines displaying earlier or later dispersal. Moreover, it resulted – at the population level - in predicted differences in the local predator-prey interaction time and in the cumulative numbers of dispersers in a
population dynamics experiment. We pose that timing of dispersal is a heritable trait that can be selected in P. persimilis, which results in lines that show quantitative differences in local predator-prey dynamics. This opens ways to experimentally investigate the evolution of alternative prey exploitation strategies and to select for predator strains with prey exploitation strategies resulting in better biological control.


European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Green Innovation Cluster VP4.


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