Variable Isotopic Compositions of Host Plant Populations Preclude Assessment of Aphid Overwintering Sites

Michael S. Crossley, Shawn A. Steffan, David J. Voegtlin, Krista L. Hamilton, David B. Hogg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soybean aphid (Aphis glycines Matsumura) is a pest of soybean in the northern Midwest whose migratory patterns have been difficult to quantify. Improved knowledge of soybean aphid overwintering sites could facilitate the development of control efforts with exponential impacts on aphid densities on a regional scale. In this preliminary study, we explored the utility of variation in stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen to distinguish soybean aphid overwintering origins. We compared variation in bulk 13C and 15N content in buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica L.) and soybean aphids in Wisconsin, among known overwintering locations in the northern Midwest. Specifically, we looked for associations between buckthorn and environmental variables that could aid in identifying overwintering habitats. We detected significant evidence of correlation between the bulk 13C and 15N signals of soybean aphids and buckthorn, despite high variability in stable isotope composition within and among buckthorn plants. Further, the 15N signal in buckthorn varied predictably with soil composition. However, lack of sufficient differentiation of geographic areas along axes of isotopic and environmental variation appears to preclude the use of carbon and nitrogen isotopic signals as effective predictors of likely aphid overwintering sites. These preliminary data suggest the need for future work that can further account for variability in 13C and 15N within/among buckthorn plants, and that explores the utility of other stable isotopes in assessing likely aphid overwintering sites.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number128
Pages (from-to)128
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • INHS
  • C
  • Dispersal
  • Overwintering
  • Stable isotopes
  • Soybean aphid
  • Buckthorn
  • N

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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