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Does white clover (Trifolium repens) abundance in temperate pastures determine Sitona obsoletus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) larval populations?

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posted on 2023-05-03, 16:07 authored by Mark McNeillMark McNeill, Chikako van KotenChikako van Koten, Vanessa Cave, David Chapman, Hamish Hodgson
To determine if host plant abundance determined the size of clover root weevil (CRW) Sitona obsoletus larval populations, populations were measured in plots with a range of % white clover content to investigate CRW population establishment and impacts on white clover survival. Larval sampling was carried out spring (October) when larval densities are near their spring peak at Lincoln (Canterbury, New Zealand) with % clover measured in autumn (April) and spring (September) of each year. Overall, mean larval densities measured in spring 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 were 310, 38, 59 and 31 larvae m-2, respectively. There was a significant decline in larval populations between 2012 and 2013, but spring populations were relatively uniform thereafter. The mean % white clover measured in autumns of 2012 to 2015 was 17, 10, 3 and 11%, respectively. In comparison, mean spring % white clover from 2012 to 2015, averaged c. 5% each year. Analysis relating spring (October) larval populations to % white clover measured in each plot in autumn (April) found 2012 larval population statistically significantly larger in the cv. Nui 6 kg/ha plots than 30 kg/ha plots. Thereafter, sowing rate had no significant effect on larval populations. From 2013 to 2015, spring larval populations had a negative relationship with the previous autumn % white clover with the relationship highly significant for the 2014 data. When CRW larval populations in spring 2013 to 2015 were predicted from the 2013 to 2015 autumn % white clover, respectively, based on their positive relationship in 2012, the predicted densities were substantially larger than those observed. Conversely, when 2015 spring larval data and % clover was regressed against 2012-2014 larval populations, observed densities tended to be higher than predicted, but the numbers came closer to predicted for the 2013 and 2014 populations. These differences are attributed to a CRW population decline that was not accounted by % white clover changes, the CRW decline most likely due to biological control by the Braconid endoparasitoid Microctonus aethiopoides, which showed incremental increases in parasitism between 2012 and 2015, which in 2015 averaged 93%.


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© 2016 McNeill, van Koten, Cave, Chapman and Hodgson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


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Frontiers Media

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Frontiers in Plant Science




McNeill, M. R., van Koten, C., Cave, V. M., Chapman, D., & Hodgson, H. (2016). Does white clover (Trifolium repens) abundance in temperate pastures determine Sitona obsoletus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) larval populations? Frontiers in Plant Science, 7, 1397. doi:10.3389/fpls.2016.01397


Lincoln University

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