2023 journal article
Plasticity in oviposition and foraging behavior in the invasive pest Drosophila suzukii across natural and agricultural landscapes
Ecology and Evolution.
The effects and extent of the impacts of agricultural insect pests in and around cropping systems is a rich field of study. However, little research exists on the presence and consequence of pest insects in undisturbed landscapes distant from crop hosts. Research in such areas may yield novel or key insights on pest behavior or ecology that is not evident from agroecosystem-based studies. Using the invasive fruit pest Drosophila suzukii (Matsumura) as a case study, we investigated the presence and resource use patterns of this agricultural pest in wild blackberries growing within the southern Appalachian Mountain range of North Carolina over 2 years. We found D. suzukii throughout the sampled range with higher levels of infestation (D. suzukii eggs/g fruit) in all ripeness stages in natural areas when compared with cultivated blackberry samples, but especially in under-ripe fruit. We also explored a direct comparison of oviposition preference between wild and cultivated fruit and found higher oviposition in wild berries when equal weights of fruit were offered, but oviposition was higher in cultivated berries when fruit number was equal. Forest populations laid more eggs in unripe wild-grown blackberries throughout the year than populations infesting cultivated berries. This suggests D. suzukii may change its oviposition and foraging behavior in relation to fruit type. Additionally, as D. suzukii exploits a common forest fruit prior to ripeness, further research is needed to explore how this affects wild food web dynamics and spillover to regional agroecosystems.