Effects of elevated CO2 (twice ambient) on the interspecific competition among three species of wheat aphids (Sitobion avenae, Rhopalosiphum padi, and Schizaphis graminum) and on wheat-aphid interactions were studied. Wheat plants had higher biomass and yield and lower water and nitrogen content of grain when grown under elevated CO2 than under ambient CO2; levels of condensed tannins, total phenols, and total nonstructural carbohydrates were also higher in wheat ears under elevated CO2. Compared with ambient CO2, elevated CO2 increased the abundance of R. padi when introduced solely but reduced its abundance when S. avenae was also present. The spatial distribution of wheat aphids was apparently influenced by CO2 levels, with significantly more S. avenae on ears and a more even distribution of R. padi on wheat plants under elevated CO2 versus ambient CO2. Elevated CO2 did not affect the abundance and spatial distribution of S. graminus when inoculated solely. Moreover, when S. avenae was present with either R. padi or S. graminum, spatial niche overlap was significantly decreased with elevated CO2. When three species co-occurred, elevated CO2 reduced spatial niche overlap between S. avenae and S. graminum and between R. padi and S. graminum. Our results suggest that increases in atmospheric CO2 would alleviate interspecific competition for these cases, which would accentuate the abundance of and the damage caused by these wheat aphids.
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