Sampling bias in roadsides: The case of galling aphids on Pistacia trees

J. J. Martinez*, D. Wool

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sampling along roadsides is convenient and is widely practiced in insect population researches. Ecological conditions in road verges are very different than those prevailing in natural habitats and they affect the annual growth of plants in semi-arid and arid regions. This in turn may improve development, survival and abundance of insects feeding on plants growing in roadsides. These trends may bias the results of sampling. To verify this assertion, we quantified the effects of growing in roadside on annual growth of Pistacia atlantica trees and Pistacia palaestina shrubs and compare two demographic indexes of nine gall-inducing aphid species on trees growing along roads with trees in the open landscape, in Israel. The annual growth of the two host plants was significantly more vigorous in roadsides than away from roads. Tests of Combined Probabilities showed that the likelihood of P. atlantica and P. palaestina to be parasitized by more galls of Fordini species is higher in roadsides than away from roads. Moreover, in the semi-dry regions of Israel, three aphid species on P. atlantica and five species on P. palaestina induced more galls in plants growing along roads than away from roads, while in the rainy Northern region, the difference was not significant between the two habitats. These results indicate a biased evaluation of population size in roadside habitat, which has to be accounted in insect-plant relation researches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2109-2121
Number of pages13
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2006


FundersFunder number
Israel Ministry of Education


    • Fordini
    • Galls
    • Herbivory
    • Israel
    • Mediterranean Maquis
    • Methodology
    • Plant-insects interactions


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