Skip to main content Accessibility help

Estimating population variability of aphids (Hemiptera: Aphididae): how many years are required?

  • Robert J. Lamb (a1), Patricia A. MacKay (a1) and Andrei Alyokhin (a2)


Variability is an important characteristic of population dynamics, but the length of the time series required to estimate population variability is poorly understood. To this end, population variability of Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Thomas), Myzus persicae (Sulzer), and Aphis nasturtii (Kaltenbach) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) was investigated. Population variability (measured as PV, a proportion between 0 and 1) was estimated for time series of 3–62 years, giving replicate estimates for time series of 3–20 years that were normally distributed. Mean values for PV were more uniform for a time series of 12 years or longer than for shorter ones. The standard deviation of PV declined to a minimum at 12–15 years, as the length of the time series increased. Discrimination of estimates of PV was reliable for 15-year time series and longer, but not necessarily for shorter ones. Although M. euphorbiae had a relatively low PV, the coefficient of variation of that PV (12.5), was higher than for the other two species (3.5, 4.5). For robust estimates of PV, a time series of 15 years is recommended, because it minimises the standard deviation of PV, and discriminates values of PV that differ by 0.06 on a 0–1 scale.


Corresponding author

1 Corresponding author (e-mail:


Hide All

Subject editor: John Wise



Hide All
Alyokhin, A., Drummond, F.A., and Sewell, G. 2005. Density-dependent regulation in populations of potato-colonizing aphids. Population Ecology, 47: 257266.
Alyokhin, A., Drummond, F.A., Sewell, G., and Storch, R.H. 2011. Differential effects of weather and natural enemies on coexisting aphid populations. Environmental Entomology, 40: 570580.
Cappuccino, N. 1987. Comparative population dynamics of two goldenrod aphids: spatial patterns and temporal constancy. Ecology, 68: 16341646.
Dalin, P., Kindvall, O., and Björkman, C. 2009. Reduced population control of an insect pest in managed willow monocultures. Public Library of Science One, 4: e5847. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005487.
Galloway, T.D. and Lamb, R.J. 2014. Abundance and stability are species traits for four chewing lice (Phthiraptera: Menoponidae, Philopteridae) on feral pigeons, Columba livia (Aves: Columbiformes: Columbidae). The Canadian Entomologist, 145: 444456.
Galloway, T.D. and Lamb, R.J. 2015. Abundance and stability of populations of a chewing louse, Mulcticola macrocephalus (Kellogg) (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae), on common nighthawks, Chordeiles minor (Forster) (Aves: Caprimulgiformes: Caprimulgidae) in Manitoba. The Canadian Entomologist, 147: 723731.
Heath, J.P. 2006. Quantifying temporal variability in population abundances. Oikos, 115: 573581.
Lamb, R.J. and MacKay, P.A. 2010. Stability of natural populations of an aphid, Uroleucon rudbeckiae, at three spatial scales. The Canadian Entomologist, 142: 3651.
Lamb, R.J., MacKay, P.A., and Alyokhin, A. 2011. Population variability and persistence of three aphid pests of potatoes over 60 years. The Canadian Entomologist, 143: 91101.
Lamb, R.J., MacKay, P.A., and Alyokhin, A. 2013. Seasonal dynamics of three aphid species: implications for estimating population variability. The Canadian Entomologist, 145: 283291.
Lamb, R.J., MacKay, P.A., and Wool, D. 2012. Population stability of a tree-galling aphid, Baizongia pistaciae, at three spatial scales. The Canadian Entomologist, 144: 406418.
McArdle, B.H., Gaston, K.J., and Lawton, J.H. 1990. Variation in the size of animal populations: patterns, problems and artefacts. Journal of Animal Ecology, 59: 439454.
Redfearn, A. and Pimm, S.L. 1988. Population variability and polyphagy in herbivorous insect communities. Ecological Monographs, 58: 3955.
Sokal, R.R. and Rohlf, F.J. 1981. Biometry. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, New York, United States of America.
SYSTAT Software 2009. SYSYAT 13, statistics I. SYSTAT Software Inc., Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed