At two-week intervals from 17 June to 15 July, three groups of `Meeker' red raspberry plants were infested with two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) in a greenhouse. While populations on individual plants were allowed to develop freely, control plants were kept free of mites with a chemical miticide. Gas exchange measurements were made on 27 July prior to visible mite damage, and on 7 October after injury was apparent. The relationships between mite populations and leaf gas exchange and chlorophyll characteristics were described using a logarithmic function.
Physiological responses to mite feeding were observed prior to visible leaf injury. On both dates, CO2 assimilation rates decreased (p ≤ 0.001) with increasing mite numbers per leaflet. On 27 June, a significant relationship (R2 = 0.61***) was found between mite number and mesophyll conductance (gm). On 7 October, significant relationships (p ≤ 0.001) were also observed with gm, stomatal conductance (gs), and transpiration (E). Total chlorophyll content of leaves decreased with increasing mite populations, but chlorophyll a/b ratio and dry weight per leaf unit area were unchanged.