Host Suppression and Stability in a Parasitoid-Host System: Experimental Demonstration

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Science  22 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5734, pp. 610-613
DOI: 10.1126/science.1114426

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We elucidate the mechanisms causing stability and severe resource suppression in a consumer-resource system. The consumer, the parasitoid Aphytis, rapidly controlled an experimentally induced outbreak of the resource, California red scale, an agricultural pest, and imposed a low, stable pest equilibrium. The results are well predicted by a mechanistic, independently parameterized model. The key mechanisms are widespread in nature: an invulnerable adult stage in the resource population and rapid consumer development. Stability in this biologically nondiverse agricultural system is a property of the local interaction between these two species, not of spatial processes or of the larger ecological community.

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