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Maintenance of an aggregated population structure implies within-species communication. In mixed-species environments, species-specific aggregations may reduce interspecific competition and promote coexistence. We studied whether movement and aggregation behavior of three entomopathogenic nematode species changed when isolated, as compared to mixed-species arenas. Movement and aggregation of Steinernema carpocapsae, S. feltiae and S. glaseri were assessed in sand. Each species demonstrated significant aggregation when alone. Mixed-species trials involved adding two species of nematodes, either combined in the center of the arena or at separate corners. While individual species became less aggregated than in single-species conditions when co-applied in the same location, they became more aggregated when applied in separate corners. This increased aggregation in separate-corner trials occurred even though the nematodes moved just as far when mixed together as they did when alone. These findings suggest that maintenance of multiple species within the same habitat is driven, at least in part, by species-specific signals that promote conspecific aggregation, and when the species are mixed (as occurs in some commercial formulations involving multiple EPN species), these signaling mechanisms are muddled.

Volume Open
Sujets de la revue:
Life Sciences, other