SLU news

Relationships between natural enemy diversity and biological control

Published: 06 February 2017

In general, the more diverse natural enemies are, the stronger the biological pest control is. However, individual studies have found everything from positive to negative effects. In a new invited review paper in Current Opinion in Insect Science, researchers discuss what factors are responsible for the different outcomes.

To understand when and why a high natural enemy biodiversity leads to better control of their prey is very important for how we manage pests. This is determined by many different mechanisms. In a new review study, researchers from SLU, University of Edinburgh (UK) and Ursinus College (USA) discuss the recent progress in how good we are at predicting this.

The researchers found that the ecological characteristics (traits) of natural enemies and prey and characteristics of the environment modify the effect of the diversity of enemies. In addition, the authors argue that maintaining a high diversity of enemies is important as an insurance against effects of climate change.

– Even though the positive effects of a high diversity of natural enemies on biological control are well known, they may very well still be underestimated. We think that as new studies are conducted that mimics reality better and cover larger scales, we will find that conserving enemy biodiversity is crucial for biological control of pests, says Mattias Jonsson.

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