Effect of elevated CO2 on tropical soda apple and its biological control agent Gratiana boliviana (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae)

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Rising atmospheric CO2 levels could have drastic effects on the performance of invasive weeds and their insect herbivores. Despite the importance of biological control as an effective management tool for environmental weeds, there have been few studies on the potential impact of climate change on the future efficacy of biological control. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effect of elevated CO2 on the performance of tropical soda apple Solanum viarum (Solanaceae) and its biological control agent Gratiana boliviana (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). We established three levels of CO2 in environmental growth chambers: ambient (400 ppm), medium (580 ppm) and high (780 ppm). Plants growing at the high level had greater biomass compared to those growing at the ambient and medium levels of CO2. Leaf water content and the amount of leaf nitrogen were reduced at high compared to ambient or medium CO2 levels. G. boliviana immature survival and developmental time were negatively affected at high CO2 but not at medium or ambient levels. Adults were lighter and smaller when reared at the high CO2 level compared to ambient and medium treatments, while adult fecundity was higher at the medium CO2 level. Leaf area consumed by fifth instars was lower when feeding on plants grown at the high CO2 level either inside a Petri dish or on potted plants. These results suggest that beetle performance may be diminished under future climate. However, further studies should incorporate other factors such as temperature and precipitation as well as the evolutionary potential of herbivores and plants to adapt to a changing climate. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

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Biocontrol Science and Technology

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