Population phenology of the tropical fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Diptera: Tephritidae), in Queensland, Australia

Muthuthantri, Weerawickramage Sakuntala Nayanatara (2008) Population phenology of the tropical fruit fly, Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Diptera: Tephritidae), in Queensland, Australia. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Bactrocera tryoni, the Queensland fruit fly, is established along the entire Australian east coast. It is a major pest of horticulture and arguably the worst horticultural insect pest in Australia. Adult flies lay eggs into fruit and resultant larvae feed on the flesh of the fruit. The population biology of B. tryoni has been well studied in temperate regions, where it has been established that climatic factors, particularly temperature and rainfall, limit population growth. In contrast, in subtropical and tropical regions, the population dynamics of the fly have been little studied. This thesis investigates the fly's phenology and abundance changes across subtropical and tropical Queensland and asks what factors govern the population cycles of B. tryoni in this state. Winter breeding and abundance of the fly, a component of the seasonal cycle which in south-east Queensland is fundamentally different from that observed in temperate Australia, is also investigated.

A historical, extensive multi-year and multi-site trapping data set with from across Queensland was analysed to look at the effects of temperature, rainfall and relative humidity on B. tryoni trap catch. Trap data was further compared with the predicted phenology data generated by a DYMEX® based B. tryoni population phenology model. The phenology model used was based on a previously published model, but was also modified to more explicitly look at the effects of host plant availability and the presence or absence of non-reproductive over-wintering flies. Over-wintering field cage studies and a winter-spring field trapping study, both carried out in Brisbane, supplied additional data on B. tryoni's population abundance and capacity to breed during winter in the subtropics.

Results show significant variation of monthly fly abundance for nine sites across Queensland. Abundance changed across sites in non-predictable ways. Annual population phenology within a site was, for some sites, highly consistent from year to year, but inconsistent for other sites. All sites in the subtropics showed some form of population depression during the cooler months, but breeding was continuous, albeit reduced at nearly all sites. Some tropical sites, where the climate is regarded as highly favourable for B. tryoni, still showed dramatic peaks and troughs in annual population abundance. There were relatively few significant correlations observed between weather factors and fly populations for any site. Output from the DYMEX population model suggested that fruit availability is a major driver of population dynamics in the tropical north of the state, while weather is more important in the subtropical south. The population dynamics of B. tryoni at sites along the central Queensland coast, where it is assumed that a mix of both weather and host fruit availability drive local populations, were poorly captured by the population model. Field cage results showed that B. tryoni successfully bred during winter in Brisbane, with pupal emergence starting in mid-winter (1st week of August), peaking in early spring (2nd week of September). Trap catch at orchards in Brisbane increased with increasing temperature and fruit availability, but diminished with decreasing temperature and fruit availability.

The results suggest that B. tryoni has an optimal climate for population growth in the tropics, but fruit availability for offspring production limits population growth. In the subtropics however, both climate and fruit availability determine the population size. Winter temperatures are marginal for B. tryoni population growth in the subtropics.

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ID Code: 16671
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Keywords: Bactrocera tryoni, breeding, Dymex, insect, integrated pest management, population phenology, climate, larval host, over-wintering
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Department: Faculty of Science
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Weerawickramage Sakuntala Nayanatara Muthuthantri
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 04:08
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2011 13:52

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