Pea aphids and artificial light

Bennie, J., Davies, T.W, Cruse, D., Inger, R. & Gaston, K.J (2015) Cascading effects of artificial light at night: resource-mediated control of herbivores in a grassland ecosystem. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 370, 20140131.Aphids_3

Artificial light at night has a wide range of biological effects on both plants and animals. Here, we review mechanisms by which artificial light at night may restructure ecological communities by modifying the interactions between species. Such mechanisms may be top-down (predator, parasite or grazer controlled), bottom-up (resource-controlled) or involve non-trophic processes, such as pollination, seed dispersal or competition. We present results from an experiment investigating both top-down and bottom-up effects of artificial light at night on the population density of pea aphids Acyrthosiphon pisum in a diverse artificial grassland community in the presence and absence of predators and under low-level light of different spectral composition. We found no evidence for top-down control of A. pisum in this system, but did find evidence for bottom-up effects mediated through the impact of light on flower head density in a leguminous food plant. These results suggest that physiological effects of light on a plant species within a diverse plant community can have detectable demographic effects on a specialist herbivore.

Download pdf