Using optimality models to improve the efficacy of parasitoids in biological control programmes.

Wajnberg, E., Roitberg, B.D., and Boivin, G. (2016). "Using optimality models to improve the efficacy of parasitoids in biological control programmes.", Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 158(1), pp. 2-16. doi : 10.1111/eea.12378  Access to full text

Abstract

Biological control of insect pests relies on the ability of natural enemies to limit pest populations. The behaviours expressed by natural enemies against their prey or hosts are modulated by a number of factors and a better understanding of these factors is key to obtaining more efficacious pest control. We propose here that optimality models based upon a behavioural ecology approach can provide a framework that should enable optimisation of biological control practices. We limit our discussion to parasitoid natural enemies and review the factors known to influence the behaviour of these insects. The most important areas that have been studied extensively in the behavioural ecology of insect parasitoids are addressed here: (1) residence time in a host patch, (2) clutch size, (3) sex ratio, (4) host and patch marking, and (5) diet choice. We discuss the implications of the incorporation of these optimality models into efficacious biological control practices and suggest areas where a better knowledge of the behavioural ecology of these insects could improve the efficacy of parasitoid-based pest control.

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