a1 School of Pure and Applied Biology and Department of Biochemistry, University of Wales College of Cardiff, UK
a2 Department of Biochemistry, University of Wales College of Cardiff, UK
The potential of carabid beetles as natural control agents of slugs was investigated using a quantitative indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The crop contents of two species, Abax parallelepipedus (Piller & Mitterpacher) and Pterostichus madidus (Fabricius) collected between May and December 1990, were analysed using an anti-mollusc haemolymph antiserum. The mass, immunological reaction and calculated mollusc content of each beetle crop was determined. Mollusc content was calculated as ‘fresh mollusc equivalent’, and the probable quantities of degraded material present are discussed in relation to predator and prey species. 89.5% of A. parallelepipedus and 42% of P. madidus were found to contain mollusc proteins. Although approximately the same proportion of male and female A. parallelepipedus tested positive, females contained greater quantities of mollusc remains. Approximately 39% of male and 45% of female P. madidus tested positive, and overall female crops contained significantly more material. The calculated amount of mollusc remains found in females was also greater. Over time, the immunological reactivity of A. parallelepipedus crop samples varied significantly. However, when crop weight was taken into consideration, the calculated quantity of mollusc found in strongly reacting samples was not significantly different between months in either species. Neither the immunological response nor the quantity of mollusc remains varied over time in P. madidus, although significant differences were found in overall crop weights. A significant correlation was found between the proportion of mollusc in beetle crops and crop mass in A. parallelepipedus, but not in P. madidus. Correlations between soil temperatures and crop mass, immunological reactivity and mollusc content were not significant in either species. The improved methods of quantifying predation from ELISA data, employed in this study, were an important part of a larger on-going investigation of the role of predation in slug population dynamics within agricultural systems.
(Accepted May 14 1993)
c1 Dr W. O. C. Symondson, School of Pure and Applied Biology, PO Box 915, Cardiff CF1 3TL, UK.