Methodology for developing life tables for sessile insects in the field using the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci, in cotton as a model system

Steven E. Naranjo, Peter C. Ellsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Life tables provide a means of measuring the schedules of birth and death from populations over time. They also can be used to quantify the sources and rates of mortality in populations, which has a variety of applications in ecology, including agricultural ecosystems. Horizontal, or cohort-based, life tables provide for the most direct and accurate method of quantifying vital population rates because they follow a group of individuals in a population from birth to death. Here, protocols are presented for conducting and analyzing cohort-based life tables in the field that takes advantage of the sessile nature of the immature life stages of a global insect pest, Bemisia tabaci. Individual insects are located on the underside of cotton leaves and are marked by drawing a small circle around the insect with a non-toxic pen. This insect can then be observed repeatedly over time with the aid of hand lenses to measure development from one stage to the next and to identify stage-specific causes of death associated with natural and introduced mortality forces. Analyses explain how to correctly measure multiple mortality forces that act contemporaneously within each stage and how to use such data to provide meaningful population dynamic metrics. The method does not directly account for adult survival and reproduction, which limits inference to dynamics of immature stages. An example is presented that focused on measuring the impact of bottom-up (plant quality) and top-down (natural enemies) effects on the mortality dynamics of B. tabaci in the cotton system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere56150
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number129
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Direct observation
  • Dislodgement
  • Environmental sciences
  • Irreplaceable mortality
  • Issue 129
  • Key-factor
  • Life table
  • Marginal mortality
  • Parasitism
  • Population dynamics
  • Predation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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