William O. C. Symondson

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Theoretical developments are helping us to comprehend the basic parameters governing the dynamics of the interactions between generalist predators and their many pest and nonpest prey. In practice, however, inter- and intraspecific interactions between generalist predators, and between the predators and their prey, within multispecies systems under the(More)
The analysis of food webs and their dynamics facilitates understanding of the mechanistic processes behind community ecology and ecosystem functions. Having accurate techniques for determining dietary ranges and components is critical for this endeavour. While visual analyses and early molecular approaches are highly labour intensive and often lack(More)
In many situations prey choice by predators in the field cannot be established or quantified using direct observation. The remains of some prey may be visually identified in the guts and faeces of predators but not all predators ingest such hard remains and even those that do consume them may also ingest soft-bodies prey that leave no recognizable remnants.(More)
Molecular analysis of predation, through polymerase chain reaction amplification of prey remains within the faeces or digestive systems of predators, is a rapidly growing field, impeded by a lack of readily accessible advice on best practice. Here, we review the techniques used to date and provide guidelines accessible to those new to this field or from a(More)
Earthworms play a major role in many aspects of soil fertility, food web ecology and ecosystem functioning, and hence are frequently the subjects of, for example, ecological and toxicological research. Our aim was to examine the genetic structure of common earthworm species, to identify cryptic lineages or species that may be distinct ecotypes or biotypes(More)
DNA-based techniques are providing valuable new approaches to tracking predator-prey interactions. The gut contents of invertebrate predators can be analysed using species-specific primers to amplify prey DNA to confirm trophic links. The problem is that each predator needs to be analysed with primers for the tens of potential prey available at a field(More)
A molecular approach, using aphid-specific monoclonal antibodies, was used to test the hypothesis that alternative prey can affect predation on aphids by linyphiid spiders. These spiders locate their webs in cereal crops within microsites where prey density is high. Previous work demonstrated that of two subfamilies of Linyphiidae, one, the Linyphiinae, is(More)
Earthworms provide a major potential source of alternative food for polyphagous predators, such as carabid beetles, that are natural enemies of slugs, aphids and other agricultural pests. Non-pest prey may foster larger numbers of natural enemies, which then help to control pests, or alternatively may help to divert the predators away from pest control. An(More)
Gut-content analyses using molecular techniques are an effective approach to quantifying predator-prey interactions. Predation is often assumed but scavenging is an equally likely route by which animal DNA enters the gut of a predator/scavenger. We used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to detect scavenged material in predator gut homogenates. The rates at(More)
Predation by generalist predators is difficult to study in the field because of the complex effects of positive and negative interactions within and between predator species and guilds. Predation can be monitored by molecular means, through identification of prey DNA within predators. However, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of prey DNA from(More)