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Drought has negative consequences on aphid fitness and plant vigour: insights from a meta-analysis

Cite this dataset

Leybourne, Daniel J et al. (2021). Drought has negative consequences on aphid fitness and plant vigour: insights from a meta-analysis [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Aphids are abundant in natural and managed vegetation, supporting a diverse community of organisms and causing damage to agricultural crops. Due to a changing climate, periods of drought are anticipated to increase, and the potential consequences of this for aphid-plant interactions are unclear.

2. Using a meta-analysis and synthesis approach, we aimed to advance understanding of how increased drought incidence will affect this ecologically and economically important insect group, and to characterise any potential underlying mechanisms. We used qualitative and quantitative synthesis techniques to determine whether drought stress has a negative, positive, or null effect on aphid fitness and examined these effects in relation to 1) aphid biology, 2) geographical region, 3) host plant biology.

3. Across all studies, aphid fitness is typically reduced under drought. Subgroup analysis detected no difference in relation to aphid biology, geographical region, or the aphid-plant combination, indicating the negative effect of drought on aphids is potentially universal. Furthermore, drought stress had a negative impact on plant vigour and increased plant concentrations of defensive chemicals, suggesting the observed response of aphids is associated with reduced plant vigour and increased chemical defence in drought-stressed plants.

4. We propose a conceptual model to predict drought effects on aphid fitness in relation to plant vigour and defence to stimulate further research.


Data was collected and curated using standard systematic literature synthesis approaches. The effect size (Hedges' g) reported in the dataset was calculated from extracted means and standard deviations.

Usage notes

Please check the ReadMe for an explanation of the values included in the dataset. Please note that n/a values are included in the Global_Dataset tab for plant meta-analysis data (_Plant_Vigour, _Plant_Defence, and _Plant_Nutrition), these indicate studies that did not report these parameters.