A matrix model describing host-parasitoid population dynamics: The case of Aphelinus certus and soybean aphid

James Rudolph Miksanek, George E. Heimpel

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20 Scopus citations


Integrating elements from life tables into population models within a matrix framework has been an underutilized method of describing host-parasitoid population dynamics. This type of modeling is useful in describing demographically-structured populations and in identifying points in the host developmental timeline susceptible to parasitic attack. We apply this approach to investigate the effect of parasitism by the Asian parasitoid Aphelinus certus on its host, the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines). We present a matrix population model with coupled equations that are analogous to a Nicholson-Bailey model. To parameterize the model, we conducted several bioassays outlining host and parasitoid life history and supplemented these studies with data obtained from the literature. Analysis of the model suggests that, at a parasitism rate of 0.21 d-1, A. certus is capable of maintaining aphid densities below economically damaging levels in 31.0% of simulations. Several parameters-parasitoid lifespan, colonization timeline, host developmental stage, and mean daily temperature- were also shown to markedly influence the overall dynamics of the system. These results suggest that A. certus might provide a valuable service in agroecosystems by suppressing soybean aphid populations at relatively low levels of parasitism. Our results also support the use of A. certus within a dynamic action threshold framework in order to maximize the value of biological control in pest management programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0218217
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019

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© 2019 Miksanek, Heimpel.


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