Exploiting predators for pest management: The need for sound ecological assessment

Furlong, Michael J. and Zalucki, Myron P. (2010) Exploiting predators for pest management: The need for sound ecological assessment. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 135 3: 225-236. doi:10.1111/j.1570-7458.2010.00988.x

Author Furlong, Michael J.
Zalucki, Myron P.
Title Exploiting predators for pest management: The need for sound ecological assessment
Journal name Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0013-8703
Publication date 2010-06
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1111/j.1570-7458.2010.00988.x
Volume 135
Issue 3
Start page 225
End page 236
Total pages 12
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Subject C1
960413 Control of Plant Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Farmland, Arable Cropland and Permanent Cropland Environments
060207 Population Ecology
Formatted abstract
Most people agree that arthropod natural enemies are good for insect pest management in agriculture. However, the population suppressive effects of predators, which consume their prey and often leave no direct evidence of their activity, are more difficult to study than the effects of parasitoids, which can be sampled from host populations relatively easily. We critically reviewed field studies which investigated the relationship between lepidopteran pests and their associated predatory fauna, published in 11 leading entomology and applied ecology journals between 2003 and 2008. Each study was appraised to determine whether or not it demonstrated that predators had an impact on prey (pest) populations and, if so, whether it was conducted at an ecological scale relevant to pest management. Less than half (43%) of the 54 field studies adopted methodologies that allowed the impact of predators on target pest populations to be measured. Furthermore, 76% of the studies were conducted at the scale of experimental plots rather than at the ecological scale which determines pest and predator population dynamics or at which pest-management decisions are made. In almost one-third of the studies, predator abundance and/or diversity was measured, but this metric was not linked with pest suppression or mortality. We conclude that much current research does not provide evidence that predatory arthropods suppress target lepidopteran pest populations and, consequently, that it has little relevance to pest management. Well-designed ecological experiments combined with recent advances in molecular techniques to identify predator diets and the emergence of organic agriculture provide both the mechanisms and a platform upon which many predator–prey interactions can be investigated at a scale relevant to pest management. However, benefits will only be reaped from this opportunity if current approaches to research are changed and relevant ecological data are collected at appropriate ecological scales. 
© 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 The Netherlands Entomological Society.
Keyword Biological control
Ecological scale
Ecosystem services
Integrated pest management
Pest suppression
Population dynamics
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes 'MINI REVIEW'

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Ecology Centre Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 25 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 27 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 23 May 2010, 00:05:06 EST